The White House put Michael Sam's decision not to be, at least early in his NFL career, perceived as an activist for gay rights to the test, and the former Missouri defensive end passed it. Sam, the NFL's first openly gay draft prospect, declined an invitation to the 2014 White House Correspondents' Dinner, according to his publicist, Howard Bragman.
"We respectfully declined," Bragman told USA Today. "As much fun as I would have had and he would have had going, it sends the wrong message. If he gets on a team and plays well, he'll probably be invited next year. I don't want people to think that he's interested in anything other than getting ready for the draft."
Not that his presence at the dinner would have necessarily come with advocacy, but for Bragman and Sam, it is important to maintain his focus on being drafted and making an NFL team, both in perception and reality. Sam's answers to questions about his challenge as, potentially, the NFL's first openly gay player during his news conference at the NFL Scouting Combine were squarely in line with Bragman's strategy as his publicist. That is, that preparing for the draft and making a living in the NFL is not only his top priority, but his only one.