Derogetory and offensive tweets sent by former Ole Miss basketball player, Marshall Henderson, on Monday morning were simply a 'project' according to Henderson himself.
The shooting guard sent the following message on the social media site in response to Sam's selection in round seven of the NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams - seeming to take particular offense at Sam and his boyfriend's display of affection shown on television:
"Boycotting sportscenter til this Michael Sam nasty (expletive, expletive) is off...My brothers are 7 and 11 and saw that!!! #SICKENING."
Henderson's tweet was met with an immediate backlash of angry commenters but the basketball star followed it up with a further message re-emphasizing his stance:
"I'm sorry but I DO NOT AGREE WHATSOEVER that should be shown to where innocent eyes can see!!!"
Henderson then seemed to take an about turn with several later tweets, as well as in an interview with ESPN on Monday afternoon:
"My stance on gay athletes is irrelevant.
"The whole reason we chose to do this is because my friend is gay. If it was wrong for me to do it, so be it," the 23-year-old told ESPN.
Henderson's comments came after tweets, which can be seen here, saw him explain away the initial hate-filled message as a study into how people reacted as a way of helping his friend to gain information as he weighs up coming out himself.
"I saw their reactions and thought we've got something brewing here. I knew I was sticking my neck out there doing it, but I wanted to see how people reacted.
"Everything I did is a psychologist and educators dream" the player explained to ESPN.
Henderson, who missed three games this past season in relation to drug offenses, and averaged 19 points for Ole Miss, hold ambitions to play professionally and enter the NBA this season but his former school moved to distance themselves from the controversy he is currently embroiled in today.
They themselves sent two tweets stating their disappointment in Henderson's original tweet.
Whether Henderson's comments toward Sam were indeed part of a 'project' remains to be seen, but irregardless they seem a highly insensitive and controversial way to interact with what is clearly one of the major news stories of recent days.