WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com — a website dubbed ‘the galactic leader in gay sports’ — recently joined 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier, to discuss how he, along with a team of publicists and agents, formulated a plan for Michael Sam to become the first openly gay player in the National Football League.
Zeigler explained the timing of Sam’s public declaration — in a recent piece for Outsports.com entitled “The Eagle Has Landed” — as necessary in order to stay in front of the story — as they became aware that both the school newspaper and Sports Illustrated had all the details they needed, and were prepared to run with the story — and it was apparent their master plan was unraveling.
“Then came the call from Jon Wertheim. Sports Illustrated knew everything and they wanted to break the story. Wertheim graciously played ball and agreed to not jump the gun. Following that was news of various interview requests disseminating around the world from CNN, BuzzFeed, Fox Sports, even a reporter from the Dutch version of NPR. Late Saturday night, it was clear that Bleacher Report was aware of the story as well.”
In hearing Zeigler speak, you get a sense for the meticulous planning which went into the timing of Sam’s announcement, albeit rolled out a bit preemptively.
“It was just very rewarding to be able to be a part of it,” Zeigler said on 106.7 The Fan. “And really help him shape the best way to do it, because I think how you come out is so important — when and who and what you say, and to be able to craft that in a very intelligent way, and do it the right way. I mean, I think it’s 48 hours later, about, and it’s still the lead story on NFL Network. People are talking about this, because they find it fascinating.”
“It’s the most important gay sports story ever, and it will end up being one of the five, maybe even the most important coming out ever, because of the role the NFL plays in our culture,” he said. “But I think beyond just that, it’s going to be the biggest sports story of the year. This is a year-long story. We are going to be talking about this, and certainly not all the time, but we’re going to talk about it again in two weeks during the [NFL] Combine, and then a month later at his pro day, and then six weeks later at the [NFL] Draft, and then OTAs, training camp, preseason.”
“I think we’ll look back and say that was the story that dominated the entire year of sports,” he said.
Redskins fans may be interested in Zeigler’s hopes for landing spots for Sam, because Washington is definitely not his ideal destination.
“He can work on any team with decent leadership,” Zeigler said. “I pray to God he doesn’t end up on the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Jets or the Washington Redskins. I think those three teams – they have poor leadership, but most of the other teams in the NFL have guys – the coaching staff, the front office and locker room – who are equipped to deal with this.”
Zeigler also spoke of the NFL executives who told Sports Illustrated they believed Sam’s draft stock would fall, due to his announcement, which seemed to mirror the sentiment made yesterday on Twitter by retired receiver Donté Stallworth.
“Any GM who feels like they need to move him down their draft board, or take him off the draft board because of this should resign from their position,” Zeigler said. “And not because of any social justice issue, but because if you’re a general manager and you can’t keep the ship right while having some extra cameras and questions about a gay player, you’re incompetent.
“And if you’re a leader in the locker room, and you’re not able to keep the locker room together with there just being a gay player on the team, you should leave the NFL, or turn away your captain status.”
“I just don’t buy this nonsense about being an overrated player,” he said. “He’s the SEC all-defensive MVP and a unanimous All-American. This is just nonsense chatter from the media and from anonymous sources.”
Listen to the full interview in the audio clip above.