Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam was honored for his courage displayed last season with one of the highest honors out there. Sam was named the recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The award will be presented to the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year at the 2014 ESPYs later this summer (July 16).
“I’m very honored to be presented with the Arthur Ashe award,” Sam said. “You know I don’t think there is anything courageous I did. I look forward to when we can live life in a world when gays don’t have to come out in public.”
Sam has his sights set on being drafted in the NFL Draft in the next few days. Wherever he ends up, he will be the first openly gay player to suit up in an NFL uniform in league history, breaking down a perceived barrier in sports. Sam revealed his sexuality to his Missouri teammates and coaches last summer, but the news was not broken until after the season thanks to a team decision to stand by Sam and allow him to break the news on his terms instead of having it leaked. That Sam’s sexual preference was kept silent for so long in this age of new media and instant news is an incredible testament to Missouri’s entire football program.
Sam put together one of the top individual performances during the 2013 season in the SEC, as demonstrated by his Defensive Player of the Year award. Sam helped lead Missouri to an SEC East division championship and berth in the SEC Championship Game in the program’s second year in the conference. The Tigers lost to Auburn in the conference title game but rebounded to win the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma State. Now Sam joins a list of names honored for a variety of displays of courage including Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King and Pat Summitt.
As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.
From the university:
The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits. During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle. In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles. He later corrected his account and since apologized.
As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.
Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”
The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.
Hope he’s been practicing.
Say it ain’t so, Steve.
According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.
Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.
He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.
But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.
Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:
Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.