By now, virtually everyone knows there's an openly gay man playing in the NFL: That man, of course, is Michael Sam. But while many people seem to have gotten over Sam's homosexuality, ESPN felt differently this week, producing an absurd, homophobic segment on a burning question it felt just had to have answered: How exactly does a homosexual behave in the team showers?
While some of Sam's teammates have already told ESPN exactly what they think the network should do with such a question, leave it to Jon Stewart to reveal the utter ridiculousness of the whole situation.
"Why would his teammates feel uncomfortable showering with Michael Sam?" Stewart asked innocently. "Does he use Axe Garlic and Rotten Egg body wash?"
With teams across the league winnowing their rosters down to the final 53-man roster by Saturday, Sam survived yet another round of cuts and has moved one step closer to making history. Although, if you asked Daily Show sports correspondent Samantha Bee, he's hanging by a thread.
"He's been making his teammates very uncomfortable. In fact, he hasn't been getting naked around them at all," the deadpan comedian claimed in her segment. "There's been no grab ass, no dick snaps, no ball-cupping. None of the locker room behavior of normal, heterosexual NFL players.
"The point is, if Michael Sam wants to fit into the NFL, he needs to cut the shy act and gay it up."
Bee's being tongue in cheek here, but she's certainly got a point — heterosexual players have engaged in plenty of "horseplay" in the locker rooms, and have for ages. It's long considered a normal part of team culture, yet there's no question that Sam's entry into the NFL has unsettled some people who otherwise take that for granted because of their tendency to privilege being heterosexual in society.
And unlike ESPN reporter Josina Anderson, whose "investigation" into Sam's routine and for all we know mundane showering habits drew ire, Bee wondered why Sam isn't just acting like another one of the boys in the locker room.
Video Credit: CFBSection2 via YouTube
Reading from the 2008 NFL expose Boys Will Be Boys, Bee noted, "Do you remember [49ers linebacker] Charles Haley? ... Hayley would stroll up to an unsuspecting teammate, whip out his phallus and repeatedly stroke it in his face. He would wrap his hand around his penis, turn toward Joe Montana and bellow 'You know you want to suck this.'"
And that team that would go on to win multiple Super Bowl championships.
That's why many observers, in and out of the NFL, decried ESPN's ridiculous probing into how Sam "fits in" with his team. Although the network has since apologized, Anderson's segment only served to perpetuate homophobic stereotypes of gay men as threatening, predatory and hypersexualized figures who can't be trusted in locker rooms, lest they make heterosexual men unwilling targets for their advances.
We get it. Sam is a gay football player. But, at this point, most of us are over it and just want to see him perform at his best — just like any other player.