Michael Sam’s reaction after getting drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the final round of the NFL draft will be remembered as one of the most historic moments in sports history.
Due to some local weather issues, Sam’s reaction almost didn’t make it to the air at all.
In a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic moment, The MMQB’s Richard Deitsch reports that ESPN had cameras stationed in Sam’s home all day, but a thunderstorm in Bristol, Conn., (ESPN’s headquarters) knocked out the feed moments before the Missouri defensive end was drafted.
ESPN was able to recover the feed just in time but had to take unique measures to ensure the moment would be seen.
“It was essentially live to us in the truck when we rolled it,” producer Seth Markman told the MMQB. “The only thing I knew was that (executive producer of the ESPYs) Maura (Mandt) described it as ‘emotional video.’ So we got in (host) Trey’s Wingo’s ear and told him basically, Here is the video, look at the monitor and describe it.
“…So the tape is rolling, the moment with Michael is happening, and honestly, in our production truck out of everyone, there was only one person who asked ‘Is this going too far?’ We all thought: This is a great, emotional, historic moment. Let it go.”
Without any time to preview the footage, ESPN’s cameras were able to capture Sam live as he received a call from Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. The cameras then stayed on Sam to show him breaking down into tears and kissing his boyfriend several times.
Markman says ESPN might not have kept the feed on Sam had they gotten the chance to review it.
“In the end, I am glad our team made the decision we did,” Markman said. “It was a just a really cool moment to be involved in.”