Michael Sam, first openly gay NFL player, to star in OWN reality series
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/16/2014
Michael Sam will star in his own docu-reality series on OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network.
OWN has announced it has ordered the currently-untitled show, which will follow the life of Sam, who made history last weekend when he became the first openly gay football player drafted into the NFL by the St. Louis Rams.
The former University of Missouri football player will be featured preparing for his entry into the world of professional sports after being drafted by the Rams in the seventh and final round of last week's 2014 NFL Draft. The series will offer a personal look into Sam's journey as he becomes a rookie defensive end in the NFL. He'll be shown attempting to earn his place on the team all the while undergoing unfortunate scrutiny for announcing his sexual preference.
"We are honored that Michael is trusting us with his private journey in this moment that has not only made history but will shape it forever," Oprah Winfrey said in a statement.
"I am proud of the focus on authentic storytelling in our new documentary series format. The next real-life story we follow in The Untitled Michael Sam Project promises to spark valuable, important discussion on life in America today. Acceptance and illumination start here."
"Like every player out there working to make a team right now, my focus is on playing football to the very best of my ability," added Sam. "I am determined. And if seeing my story helps somebody else accept who they are and to go for their dreams too, that's great. I am thankful to Oprah for her support and excited to work together."
Sam's agent Cameron Weiss talked to ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike show on Thursday about what restrictions the show's cameras will face.
"OWN's cameras would never be able to go to the Rams' facility to be inside the locker room, to get on the field, because nobody has those rights besides the NFL," Weiss explained, adding that the series will capture "Mike's personal reactions, and not even on his training days [but] on his off days away from the team -- things that give us insight to his private and personal life, and into his journey, and what's going on inside of his head."
"Obviously, we all know there are going to be certain outlets and people that aren't going to treat him as just a football player, and we view it as important for people to see what this individual is going through. It's something that will probably never be replicated and has the potential to change lives."
The Untitled Michael Sam Project is being produced with OWN by Pilgrim Studios and executive produced by Craig Piligian, Nicholas Caprio and Johnny Gould. Weiss, Joe Barkett and Howard Bragman will serve as producers.
The production team is the same one behind Lindsay Lohan's recent Lindsay reality serieson OWN.