Monday, February 10, 2014

Sam declaration should be met with a shrug

So Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam, the best defensive player in the SEC last year, has proclaimed that he is gay.

So what?

At least that is what I hope will be the reaction by the NFL, Sam's future employer. Sam has taken a huge step for gay athletes by making this announcement prior to the 2014 NFL draft -- he will be eligible for that draft and is considered a mid- to late-round pick.

Some team will draft Sam -- or if not that then certainly bring him to a training camp as an undrafted free agent. That team should shrug his shoulders and pick him, because being gay doesn't affect his ability to play football. I would be happy for the team that chooses him to be the Panthers. Some team is going to hire him for his football ability -- Sam (6-2, 260) will likely be turned into a linebacker in the NFL -- but then will have the spotlight shone upon it as Sam tries to make the team and perform well.

That team will need some backbone and some courage to do this. Certainly not as much as Sam has had to come out as gay in this testosterone-fueled sport, but enough to realize that everything it does with Sam will be put under a microscope for awhile.

No NBA team ever picked up Jason Collins, who announced last April that he was gay in a first-person Sports Illustrated story. Collins was a free agent at the time and had hoped to be picked up by an NBA team this fall. Didn't happen. But Collins was also nearing the end of his career - he is now 35 -- and NBA teams would tell you this was a basketball decision not to sign him and based on nothing else.

For Sam, the situation is far different. He is at the beginning of his career, not the end. He had 11.5 sacks last season in college. He told his teammates at Missouri before this past season ever began. They supported him, kept his secret, and he ended up having a stellar season just like his team did.

Sam won't be the first gay NFL player -- from a statistical standpoint, there have almost certainly been dozens of them by now.

But he will be the first openly gay player in this situation, where he's about to have a whole series of job interviews with NFL teams and everyone knows this about him. He said he is proud to tell the world his story. We should be proud, too, that we live in a country where he is free to tell it.


Tom said...

I'm declaring that I'm heterosexual.

Where's my front page story?

Anonymous said...

As soon as countries criminalize your heterosexual lifestyle, and you are prohibited in this country from marrying someone you love simply because they are the opposite gender, then I'll right the front page story for you.

Clay said...

Good luck to him he'll need it.

We are no better or different, than the Russians regarding the treatment of Homosexuals in our society.

At least they don't pretend to be tolerant.

Anonymous said...

is anyone else sick of hearing about gay "rights"...this guy came out for pure publicity purposes

Anonymous said...

He "came out" to the world because he wanted to do so on his terms as he had already "come out" to most of the people in his life and knew that eventually his story would leak.

If he can come off the edge and hit Drew Brees in the teeth than I am all for him becoming a Panther. Especially if he is a 3rd round talent that we get in the 5th or 6th.

I am straight. I wish him the best and hope that in the very near future this news is about as interesting as an African American being drafted. No one chooses their sexuality.....

Anonymous said...

If your sick of it why did you read the story and comment ? He does not need the publicity he is the best defensive lineman in the SEC.. Respect all

Tyler said...

The guy can flat out play football, what else really matters? If people in any way think this is negative, take a step back and look at all the arrests that have happened to several NFL players. Me personally.. I'd rather have an excellent pass rusher who is openly gay than a pass rusher who is an idiot and gets arrested for drunk driving and posession of firearms and narcotics... anyday.

Anonymous said...

He won't be passed over in the draft because he is gay. If he gets passed over, it will be because of the media circus that will follow and distract the team. If the media truly believes the news should "be met with a shrug", then leave him and the team alone and let them focus on football!

Mike said...

I wish him a long and successful career in the NFL, but I believe the truth is he came out because he has signed with an agent and the agent wanted him to do it before it came out from the press. Stange that he didn't even tell his parents until he signed with an agent. It's always about the money.