OWN Postpones Series on Gay NFL Draftee Michael Sam

Oprah Winfrey’s TV network postponed a documentary on Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted into the National Football League, saying it didn’t want to hurt his chances of making the team.

The decision was made after discussions with the St. Louis Rams, which drafted Sam this month, according to an e-mailed statement yesterday from OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, a joint venture between Winfrey and Discovery Communications Inc.

“OWN is about elevating and empowering people to achieve their best,” Erik Logan, the network’s president, said in the statement. “It’s clear that we, along with the world, recognize the important opportunity that Michael now has in this moment. We will continue to support him in his journey to earn a spot playing for the Rams.”

OWN said on May 15 it planned to follow Sam as he tries to turn his high-profile selection by an NFL team into success on the field. No air date had been announced. On May 8, the All-American defensive end signed a sponsorship deal with Visa Inc., the world’s biggest bank-card network.

The parties remain committed to the project, Cameron Weiss, Sam’s agent at Empire Athletes, said in the statement.

“We collectively feel it is best to postpone the project,” Weiss said. “This will allow for Michael to have a total focus on football, and will ensure no distractions to his teammates.”

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