Roland Martin took to the airwaves Monday with his “NewsOne Now” panel to discuss the coming out of football player Michael Sam. The discussion took many turns, including into Martin’s insistence that Sam’s position not be compared to that of Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball.
“On Twitter last night I talked about Jackie Robinson and folks are always making the comparisons,” said Martin. “I’m very clear: Jackie Robinson was the first black player. He came into the league when racism…you can’t even remotely compare it. Sam is potentially coming into the NFL with a support system, folks are backing it. You didn’t have any blacks in major league baseball, no front offices. They were cussin’, dogging, trying to kill Jackie Robinson from day one.”
Panelist Hughey Newsome agreed that the country has come a long way in terms of LGBT acceptance and supposed that the NFL is “ready” for an openly gay player but fellow panelist Steve Clemons pushed back, offering that not all Americans have come as far.
“That problem still is out there in the Unites States, so I don’t want to minimize it,” said Clemons. “We’re further along but we’re further along in urban centers. We’re not further along out in middle America.”
Listen to the panel’s full conversation on Sam’s coming out and what it means for sports.