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No hesitation for networks airing Michael Sam kiss

BY LYNN ELBER
AP TELEVISION WRITER

NEW YORK -- The handsome football player gets drafted by an NFL team, plants an emotional kiss on his sweetheart and gives sportscasts a feel-good video clip.

It's a scene that plays out for dozens of draft picks.

But when a sobbing Michael Sam celebrated his selection by the St. Louis Rams by hugging and kissing his partner, another man, it made real and physical that an openly gay athlete had taken an unprecedented step toward an NFL career.

For some, the reaction was joy. For others, there was dismay or even anger. For the networks that carried and repeatedly aired the scene, it was business as usual.

Producer Seth Markman, who oversees NFL draft coverage for ESPN, said that in the extensive preparation for Sam's possible draft, "we never had one discussion about, 'What if he's drafted, his partner's there and they kiss?' Honestly, it never came up."

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