OWN calls off Michael Sam series
The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and Michael Sam's representation announced Friday night that the documentary series that was set to feature the first openly gay NFL player has been postponed.
"After careful consideration and discussion with the St. Louis Rams, 'The Untitled Michael Sam Project' has been postponed, allowing Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dreams of making the team," OWN president Erik Logan said in a statement. "OWN is about elevating and empowering people to achieve their best. It's clear that we, along with the world, recognize the opportunity that Michael has in this moment. We will continue to support him in his journey to earn a spot playing for the Rams."
The statement also included a comment from Sam's agent, Cameron Weiss, who met with the Rams in person on Friday.
"After today's meeting with the Rams, we felt it is best to postpone the project," Weiss said. "This will allow for Michael to have total focus on football, and will ensure no distractions to his teammates. Everybody involved remains committed to this project and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message."
OWN announced on Wednesday that it acquired the rights to follow Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team. Sources told ESPN.com that the network's plan was to follow Sam's personal life as he tried to make the Rams, dividing the content into six to eight segments.
The Rams, who picked Sam in the seventh round Saturday, and the NFL said they were unaware of the project prior to its announcement.
"We learned of this in the days after the draft," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
McCarthy said OWN also had not signed any agreement that would allow the network to use league footage or any of its trademarks in the show.