It remains to be seen whether openly gay defensive end Michael Sam will be selected in the National Football League draft this weekend. But the University of Missouri player is already making a statement.
As the draft began Thursday night, ESPN reported that Sam had already inked a deal with credit card company Visa. And his first ad, which came out last night, takes on Sam’s sexuality and its relevance to football head on. The point is that there isn’t one.
“Judge me,” the ad begins, with a pause for effect, “for running a 4.91 at the combine, for a blown tackle on the outside rush. Or holding fourth and goal with your team’s wild-card berth on the line. Remember me for sending you home with tears of joy or tears of sorrow. Judge me for what I do on the field.”
The ad doesn’t mention sexuality at all, and that’s on purpose. The message behind the ad is simple and clear: Sam has ups and downs as a player. He can screw up, or he can make fans proud. And, ultimately, that’s what he should be drafted on. Why mention sexuality when it’s not relevant at all?
“We felt that Michael’s story was a perfect fit for our ‘everywhere’ campaign, which is meant to inspire people to reach their own personal goals and aspirations,” Kevin Burke, Visa’s chief marketing officer, told ESPN. “We wish Michael the best on and off the field as he embarks on the next chapter of his life.”