Most Awkward Interview Ever: Asante Samuel Discusses Gay Athletes On ESPN
Earlier this week, NBA career journeyman center Jason Collins announced in a very well written SI.com article that he is gay, technically making him the first active athlete to come out and announce his homosexuality.
I say "technically" because Collins is a 34 year old free agent, so the likelihood that he finds work next season is somewhat in doubt to begin with. His announcement this week, sadly, probably didn't help matters.
While dozens of athletes and media members came out in support of Collins, praising his courage and insisting that the testosterone laden locker room culture in the various leagues is indeed ready for an openly gay player, there were plenty who were at the very least more cautious in their acceptance of Collins' lifestyle and many who cited religious reasons for their rejection of said lifestyle.
Then there were those athletes that just wanted the whole issue to go away.
Like Asante Samuel.
The Atlanta Falcon cornerback appeared on Fox Sports Radio shortly after the Collins news broke and got off this gem:
"Straight people are not announcing they're straight, so why does everybody have to announce their sexuality or whatever? You know, what they prefer, so that's just how I see it. That's my opinion on things. All respect you know, I have nothing but respect for the people whoever decisions they make and whatever, but you know, you don't have to show it and flaunt it like that. You know what I'm saying, we have kids out here."
Wow, there's a lot to dig into there, not the least of which is Samuel's misinterpretation of Collins' announcing his sexuality as "flaunting" it. Thankfully, Samuel decided to make his opinions on Collins and gays in locker rooms a full on media tour, following his Fox Sports Radio appearance with this interview on ESPN's SportsCenter:
Ok, let's Zapruder this hot steaming pile of awkwardness, shall we?
0:02 -- Assigned to this interview on the ESPN side of things is Chris McKendry. Assigning McKendry to uncover compelling content through hard hitting questions is like assigning Andrew Shue to play the lead in Hamlet because you need an actor who can "knock it out of the ballpark." Not only is it not happening, but the realization will some swiftly and awkwardly.
0:12 -- McKendry starts by reading Samuel's comments to Fox verbatim, right down to the broken English and mangled sentence structure. This needs to be a Saturday Night Live skit, Chris McKendry reading transcripts of athlete interviews. Her reading the transcript of Jacoby Jones on Jimmy Kimmel would reach "Kill my landlord" pantheon status.
0:34 -- Asked what he meant by his comments, Samuel said that he basically doesn't think there's a place for sexuality and sports combined, and that we should leave the two separate, that athletes should keep their sexuality to themselves, as if an athlete living an openly gay lifestyle without announcing it first wouldn't turn into an even bigger circus than anything Collins has created with his announcement.
Also, I like how Samuel insists that it's not okay for Collins to comment about his own sexuality, but it is ok for Samuel to go on a whirlwind media tour to comment about Collins' commenting on it. Very 2013.
1:08 -- McKendry: What if you had a gay teammate? Samuel: I mean, we'll deal with it at the time... All right, Samuel is just kind of avoiding the question. McKendry, if she's worth what she's getting paid, will push for an answer...
1:12 -- McKendry: Do you think the NFL locker room is ready for an openly gay player? Samuel: The NFL can prepare their self for whatever they want to prepare their self. When that time comes around, I'm sure they'll deal with it the way it needs to be dealt with."
So Samuel interprets McKendry's poorly worded question about locker rooms around the league as some sort of question about the league as a whole, and again says that it will get dealt with down the road. Jeez.
1:28 -- To McKendry's credit, she keeps pushing for answers. To Samuel's credit, he has answers that are so stupid, he is setting new standards for idiocy in a SportsCenter in studio interview, which is really, really hard to do.
McKendry: And how would that be [the NFL dealing with gays in the locker room]?
Samuel: That's for up to them (sic) to figure out....if they pay me to figure it out, I could do it!
Huh? What does that even mean? If they pay you, Asante Samuel, the guy who thinks everyone should keep their sexuality to themselves, to figure out how to delicately handle the issue of an openly gay player in the locker room, you will do it? How great would that be? The league paying Asante Samuel to come up with some sort of handbook on how to accept gay players into the locker room culture. Sorry, I don't watch this video and think to myself "Yeah, Asante is the one who can get everyone on the same page with this highly sensitive topic." Sorry, dude.
1:31 -- Here comes the really, really awkward part....
McKendry: What would your answer be?
Samuel: They got to get the check first!
McKendry: I see...
You do, Chris?
1:54 -- One final attempt from McKendry to get an answer from Samuel that isn't plucked from the Stone Age, and one final token assurance from Samuel that he has "nothing but respect" for Jason Collins.
All due respect to you, Asante, all evidence to the contrary.