Last night, Michael Sam came out to the public as a gay man. Sam is a defensive end prospect for the upcoming NFL Draft. He is a 6′ 2″, 265 pound defensive end out of the University of Missouri. The draftniks have Sam pegged as a potential fourth round draft pick.
When I first saw this news, I was like good for him. Sam is the first draft prospect to ever come out as gay. So this is kind of a big deal. Being the first at whatever it is you do is a big deal. What Sam did took a lot of courage and conviction, and that should’ve applauded. And the fact that Sam came out of the closet to his Missouri teammates, and they never said anything about it, and never treated him any different, tells me a lot about the type of young men he was playing with.
I hope Sam’s revelation about his sexuality doesn’t affect his draft status. I hope he is solely judged for what he brings to the table on the football field, and not who he decides to sleep with. Because his activities in the bedroom have nothing to do with him as a football player. It’s a little discouraging that some NFL executives have intimated privately that Sam’s sexual orientation with have some impact on his draft status. That teams won’t want to deal with the headaches of dealing with the media attention that drafting Sam will create. And I say, those teams suck and will always suck as long as they let outside factors determine who to draft and develop. So I hope those teams don’t take Sam. I hope he goes to a place that has strong leadership, and can squash this before it becomes a Tebow situation, where the media attention far outweighs what the player can deliver on the field. And I hope Sam’s experience will make it easier for the next guy to come out, and the next guy, until it really doesn’t matter what a guy’s sexual orientation is.
I am looking forward to seeing how Sam is treated, and how he handles himself. So far, he has knocked it out of the park. He is controlling the story, and really putting his best foot forward. The combine is in two weeks. That’s when the rubber will really hit the road. Sam will be poked and prodded and really be put under the microscope. Then he will have his pro day, and then the draft in May. And, hopefully, by time training camp opens in July, this will be a minor background story. It will be interesting on how it all plays out. The world is watching NFL, it’s your move.