by Harris Rubenstein 2-11-14
This is what Missouri DE, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and NFL Draft Prospect said to his Missouri teammates during the preseason.
By saying it, he has become the first ever openly gay draft prospect and should be the first active player as well. At 6 feet 2 inches and 250 pounds, he was dominant in his redshirt senior season and was named a first team all American and voted MVP by his teammates and is being projected to go between the 3rd and 5th rounds in May.
What makes this a large story is the hopeful impact it has on sports. Before Sam, there were no publicly gay athletes in any team roster of the 4 major sports. The only active athlete is Jason Collins, but he is currently an NBA free agent.
One of the biggest controversies with this announcement is whether or not Sam will be accepted by NFL locker rooms especially with a complicated bullying scandal still in the front of everyone’s minds. A few players and coaches have already spoken out about if they would be comfortable with that idea. Patriots coach Bill Belichick says he only judges players based off if they can play football or not. He said on Monday, “We evaluate all the players, including Michael Sam, based on the totality of who they are and who can best contribute to our team and organization, regardless of the matters being discussed today. They all have strengths, they all have weaknesses and no two human beings are identical.”
On the other side of the coin was free agent LB Jonathon Vilma who commented in an interview with NFL Network by saying, “I think he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted.”
Although there is still a lot of debate and questions around the topic, Michael Sam made one thing very clear in his live interview with ESPN. He isn’t afraid of who he is.
“”I’m not afraid to tell the world who I am. I’m Michael Sam: I’m a college graduate. I’m African American, and I’m gay,” he said. “I’m comfortable in my skin.”
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