- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 15, 2014

Michael Sam made history over the weekend as being the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft, and now the Oprah Winfrey Network is officially announcing a new reality series with the Rams player.

“This special documentary series will feature a deeply personal, up-close look at the remarkable man at the center of this groundbreaking moment in professional sports,” OWN said in a press release.

“Cameras will follow Sam as he works to earn his spot on the St. Louis Rams all while under the intense scrutiny of being the first openly gay player in the NFL,” the release states.

According to TMZ, Sam has already been taping the show for weeks, before he was even drafted.

“In fact, we’re told Oprah’s crew was in the room when Sam learned he had been drafted by the St. Louis Rams … and clearly knew his big celebratory kiss with his BF would make for great reality television,” the website reported.

Miss Winfrey said in a statement released Wednesday that the network is “honored” to have Sam on the project.

“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,” she said in a statement.

Sam said he hoped his story might help others out there to go for their dreams.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Critics say Sam should be focusing more on football and less on making himself a celebrity.

The Salt Lake Tribune’s Scott D. Pierce called the move a “horrible mistake” for Sam.

“It won’t be easy for him to make the Rams roster, and he would be better off worrying about that than about what looks like a stab at fame that goes beyond football,” he writes.

And Mediaite’s Joe Concha said Sam has two choices: Cut ties with Oprah, or risk making the team.

“Rookies — particularly 7th round draft picks that routinely get cut before the season — don’t get their own reality show,” he writes. “Life is tough enough being a fresh new face on the team, and players and coaches alike will not take kindly to any rookie — gay or not — putting himself over the team. Making himself the focus.”