The Daily Nole

Former FSU Receiver P.K. Sam Talks Controversial Bowden Tweet, Upcoming Book

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Throughout more than seven decades of Florida State football, there has been no shortage of memorable moments from big-time players. The owner of one of those moments is former wide receiver P.K. Sam.

15 years ago, Sam famously hauled in the 52-yard touchdown pass from Chris Rix in the game’s final minute to lift FSU to a 38-34 victory over rival Florida. Sam will forever be associated with the memorable catch that will live in Seminole lore, but last month, a since-deleted tweet about former head coach Bobby Bowden drew ire from Sam’s once adoring fan base.

In a late November interview with The Daily Nole, Sam clarified the statements that many took exception to. Sam’s initial comments were in response to a video in which the FSU legendary coach stood on stage with U.S. President Donald Trump and claimed that “Trump plus God was a majority”.

Sam noted that he was mostly apolitical and saw the president as a racially divisive figure. Sam also explained that he was never comparing Bowden to a slave owner, but stated that the legendary coach was using religion to prop up to absolve racism.

“I’m not political,” Sam told The Daily Nole. “What has offended me has been the platform of racial divide. It offended me for Coach Bowden, who was given the demographics of poor black kids who helped make him wealthy, to make that endorsement.”

In addition to his football prowess, Bowden has largely been defined by his faith. Sam noted that faith was often cited to parents and family members when it came to recruiting visits. Sam, himself, said he grew up lower- to middle-class. The former receiver recalls Bowden talking about faith with his mother and grandmother.

“Usually when you’re poor, the Bible becomes your only hope,” Sam said. “The Bible can also be a weapon. There is a disconnect between poor black kids and older, rich white men. He found his niche as a salesperson, but that was part of his job.”

The Daily Nole first reported on Sam’s desire to write a book in February 2017. Sam’s book will detail what collegiate athletes and community members should know and lays out the reasons he should have stayed for a senior season. Sam was selected in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots after catching 50 passes for 735 yards and five touchdowns, including two game-winners, as a junior at FSU in 2003.

Sam initially wanted to release the book in November 2017, but didn’t realize how lengthy the process for getting it published was. Sam said he still plans on releasing the book, but no longer has a target date. Sam acknowledged from the start that some aspects of the book would not be popular with some of the FSU faithful.

“Honestly, I’ve been nervous to say some of the things that I’ve wanted to say,” Sam said. “I enjoy pleasing people, so it is hard to write some things that I know some people won’t like.”

Despite last month’s tweet, Sam said that he has no animosity toward Bowden, but there are some gripes. When he declared early for the draft following Florida State’s 2003 season, Sam said he received no words of encouragement from Bowden or his staff and that some reports from the FSU coaching staff to NFL franchises were not accurate reflections of Sam’s character.

“I have great respect for him as an X’s and O’s type,” Sam said of Bowden. “He runs a great company, because that’s what college football is — it’s a business. I can separate the personal from the business.”

Sam added that his brother, Lorne, who played at FSU from 2002-04, was promised a chance to compete at quarterback. Sam said his younger brother was never afforded that opportunity and FSU later blocked the younger Sam from transferring to ACC or SEC schools. Lorne Sam completed his college career at UTEP in 2007.

Going back to The Daily Nole’s precursor as Noled Out, we’ve interviewed more than 30 former and current FSU players. Overwhelmingly, the recollections about the legendary Bowden have been positive. In January, former FSU players who have since gone into coaching talked about the immense impact that Bowden and his staff members had on their lives. Sam acknowledged there’s no way of knowing definitively, but suspects that sentiments toward Bowden are more of a mix that many believe.

Sam said it was his belief that many players who grow up in fatherless homes have a greater attachment to the 2-time national championship head coach, because for many, Bowden was the first older male figure in their lives. In the case of P.K. and Lorne Sam, their father served as a mentor in their lives.

When it comes to Bowden, Sam said the two have crossed paths many times since his playing days in Tallahassee have come to an end. The two, according to the former receiver, have always been cordial to one another. Sam said the relationship between the two has always been more of a work relationship than a family one.

“I’ll always respect what he did for the dynasty,” Sam said. “I’m just not going to seek him out. I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity. I love FSU and I’m still grateful for the chance he gave me.”

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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