(Reuters) - Sports television network ESPN said on Wednesday it regrets a report that detailed the showering habits of St. Louis Rams defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL.
The Walt Disney Co-owned network received criticism on Tuesday after reporter Josina Anderson quoted an anonymous Rams player saying that Sam waited to take showers “as not to make his teammates feel uncomfortable.”
“ESPN regrets the manner in which we presented our report,” the company said in a statement. “Clearly yesterday we collectively failed to meet the standards we have set in reporting on LGBT-related topics in sports.”
Anderson had been asked how Sam was fitting in with his teammates.
Sam’s supporters have said that his sexuality is irrelevant to his performance and have dismissed suggestions that an openly gay player would be a distraction for an NFL team.
Teammate and fellow defensive end Chris Long also criticized the network for the report.
“Dear ESPN, Everyone but you is over it,” he wrote on Twitter.
Sam was drafted in the seventh round of this year’s NFL Draft three months after coming out publicly.
He has kept a low profile as he seeks to make the Rams final roster ahead of the team’s first game on Sept. 7.
In May, Sam pulled out of an announced reality program on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network that would have chronicled his attempt to make the team.
Reporting by Eric Kelsey, editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Andrew Hay