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Oprah Winfrey Network postpones documentary series on Michael Sam

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The project had come under criticism and the NFL had not given its blessing.

Michael Sam at Rams rookie camp today.
Michael Sam at Rams rookie camp today.
Dilip Vishwanat

After two days of criticism about the project, the Oprah Winfrey Network has postponed a documentary series about Michael Sam and his quest to be the first openly gay NFL player.

"After careful consideration and discussion with the St. Louis Rams, 'The Untitled Michael Sam Project' has been postponed, allowing Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dream of making the team," network president Erik Logan wrote in a statement, . "OWN is about elevating and empowering people to achieve their best. 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."

One of Sam's agent, Cameron Weiss, also released a statement:  "After today's meeting with the Rams, we collectively feel it is best to postpone the project. This will allow for Michael to have a total focus on football, and will ensure no distractions to his teammates. Everybody involved remains committed to this project and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message."

It is unclear what "postponed" means or when it might resume. The OWN project was not revealed to the St. Louis Rams until after they had drafted him on Saturday. The NFL today pushed back against claims that it knew about the show, saying it did not hear about it until after the draft and had not authorized use of any NFL or Rams logos. Minus the NFL's cooperation, the documentary would not have amounted to much right now. OWN cameras, though, were at Sam's rookie training camp today, getting the same access as the rest of the media.

In the past two days, many media commentators supportive of Sam's coming out questioned his doing the show, saying it contradicted his claim that all he wanted to do was focus on football. Whatever the reason, Sam has pulled the plug on the idea and for now will let his play do the talking.