HITCHCOCK — The father of Michael Sam, the former Hitchcock and University of Missouri football standout who announced Sunday that he is gay, claims he was “terribly misquoted” in a New York Times story published Wednesday.
Michael Sam Sr. said he doesn’t want people to think he has issues with his son’s homosexuality.
The Times, through a statement from its sports editor, stands by the quotes attributed to Michael Sam Sr. and called the reporting “fair” and “rock solid.”
In interviews aired on ESPN and published in The New York Times Sunday night, Michael Sam Jr., the co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference and a projected mid-round NFL draft pick, announced he is “an openly proud, gay man.” His announcement sent shockwaves through the sports world and put his hometown of Hitchcock under a national spotlight.
In the follow-up article by The Times, Michael Sam Sr., who lives in the Dallas area, is quoted as having issues with his son’s homosexuality and that he didn’t want “grandkids raised in that environment.”
While Sam acknowledged that much of what he said during an interview with The Times is accurate, he said there were several portions of the conversation that he either denied saying or claimed were taken out of context.
That there may be some conflict between Sam Jr. and his family is no surprise. The 2009 Hitchcock graduate said in his interviews he is closer to his friends than his family. His mother, JoAnn Sam, has yet to comment publicly about her son’s announcement.
In an interview with The Daily News on Monday, Sam Sr. gave little indication he had issues with his son being gay. That is why he said he was upset by the reaction to his comments in The New York Times article.
Sam Sr. said he was “shocked and upset” when his son sent him a text on his birthday Feb. 4 to tell him he was gay. He told Times “he couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have a drink.”
In a Wednesday interview with The Galveston County Daily News, Sam Sr. said he had a phone conversation with his son that same day and began to accept that he son is homosexual.
Sam Sr., who was once a church deacon, denied the quote in The Times that read, “I’m a man-and-woman type of guy.” He also denied he told The Times he “didn’t want his grandkids raised in that environment.”
“I did not say anything about my grandkids,” Sam Sr. said.
Sam Jr. doesn’t have any children, he said.
The Times defended its reporting, even after Sam Sr. contacted reporters, demanding a retraction.
“We’re generally are not inclined to discuss the details of our reporting, but I can assure you that we quoted Mr. Sam accurately and fairly,” New York Times Sports Editor Jason Stallman said in an email. “I’ve gone over it with our reporters, and everything was rock solid, beyond any doubt.”
Sam Sr. complained that some of what he said also was taken out of context.
That included his quote that the late Pro Football Hall of Famer Deacon Jones was “rolling over in his grave.”
“I told (The Times) that my brother and I are old-school football fans,” Sam Sr. said. “I told them that Deacon Jones is going to roll over in his grave because here comes my son and that’s he’s going to be a star in the NFL.”
The reaction to his son’s announcement has given Sam Sr. time to reflect on his relationship with his son.
“I do wish I had taken more time with Michael,” the former truck driver said Wednesday. “But my son did the right thing, and I am not against him at all. He has made a great statement in coming out, and that he should be able to play in the NFL. I love him unconditionally.
“Once he gets on the field and hits (someone) once, they won’t think he’s gay.”
Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds contributed to this report.