After it found itself at the epicenter of a storm of criticism over a report on the shower habits of Michael Sam, the first openly gay player on an NFL roster, and his teammates, ESPN responded Wednesday morning with a further statement on the report.
“ESPN regrets the manner in which we presented our report. Clearly yesterday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports.”
On Tuesday, while providing an update about Sam’s quest to make the St. Louis Rams’ final roster, reporter Josina Anderson said that a Rams “defensive player told me that ‘Sam is respecting our space’ and that, from his perspective, he seems to think that Michael Sam is waiting to take a shower, as not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable.”
She also said that [defensive end Kendall] Langford and linebacker Alec Ogletree said “they didn’t know that, specifically, and also weren’t tracking that.”
The report instantly drew fire on social media and, by late afternoon, Rams defensive lineman Chris Long had tweeted simply:
Dear ESPN, Everyone but you is over it.
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) August 26, 2014
In its initial response to the firestorm, ESPN responded Tuesday: “In response to recent questions about Sam fitting in with the team, multiple Rams brought up the shower topic and we relayed that information as part of our reporting.” Clearly, it felt it was necessary to walk that back Wednesday.