Accepting Michael Sam as the first openly gay NFL player is the Raiders way

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The Oakland Raiders have always welcomed those who were not welcome. Legendary Raiders owner Al Davis was the definition of a maverick. He was unlike any owner in the NFL in many ways. From his rise to ownership from head coach, to his unwillingness to follow the trends of other teams in the NFL. Davis always did things his own way.

One of the greatest ways Davis differentiated himself from other owners was through his willingness to accept those who were not accepted by the rest of the NFL. The Raiders took guys who had been labeled as NFL busts like Jim Plunkett and Rich Gannon and turned them into stars. Under Davis, the Raiders had the first Latino starting quarterback, the first female CEO, the first African American head coach in the modern era and the second Latino head coach. The Raiders also boast the first African American head coach to make it to a conference championship game and the first minority coach to win the Super Bowl.

The fact of the matter is, the only thing that Al Davis cares about is winning no matter how it got done. It did not matter who helped him do it, all Davis wanted to do was “Just Win Baby”. So it would only be fitting in the Raiders tradition to welcome the first openly gay player into the NFL with Michael Sam if he can help the team win.

Sam, the co-SEC defensive player of the year, is a pass rushing specialist who projects to be a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL.

As it just so happens, one of the Raiders biggest holes that they need to address this off season is to find a pass rusher. Sam is a mid to late round talent who can provide some help in the nickel package as a pass rush specialist. Much like Davis, I fully expect general manager Reggie McKenzie to take a serious look at whether or not Sam can help the team.

And if Sam can help, McKenzie won’t, nor should he, care even in the least that Sam is openly gay. If he can help the Raiders win, that’s all he or anyone else should care about.

UPDATE:

McKenzie spoke on Michael Sam today and pretty much confirmed what I thought he would say about the issue.

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  • Angel

    Who CARES about his sex life! Besides, we already had Kwame Harris on the team. We don’t need to make any statements. Just take players who can play. Period. The LGBT people need to stop acting like the world owes them everything already. Get in line like everyone else and stfu!

    • James Arcellana

      No idea what youre talking about. Never heard or seen anyone LGBT act like the world owes them anything but the same respect everyone gets.

    • Steve

      Angel, there is a critical difference between “sex life” and “sexual orientation.” This article says nothing about his “sex life,” but rather, as I see it, how stupid it is to let homophobia get in the way of the ultimate goal of sports – to win.

      • James Arcellana

        Steve – it’s like your in my head. That or you actually read the piece with an open mind haha. Thanks for the comment and GO RAIDERS!

        • Angel

          Thanks for proving my point. “you read the piece with an open mind” Someone has something critical to say, not of your piece, but of the situation, we are closed minded and intolerant. Not gonna start a political debate, but just say that Reggie is on point. He should be evaluated from a FOOTBALL standpoint ONLY.

      • JustWinBaby

        The Raiders need to take the best player available that provides the most value to our team. Not take an openly gay player as a publicity stunt. We’ve been trash for over a decade and the focus needs to remain on stabilizing our front office and getting players that help us win. If Sam is the best guy available, then take him. Period. But I don’t like how some of the local media is making it sound like it’s somehow 49ers’/Raiders’ responsibility to draft him because we’re trailblazing, liberal California and we should make some kind of statement. Steve, please explain the “critical difference” between one’s sexual orientation and their sex life…they are closely tied, as one is indicative of the other. I think the critical difference is between accepting homosexuals in our place of work (in this case it’s the NFL) and rooting it on as if it’s something special. If I’m a gay man applying for a job at IHOP, it seems a little ridiculous that I walk into the interview and announce my sexuality. If Sam needed to come out for personal reasons or to “get something off his chest” then that’s good for him. We’re in a transitional period of acceptance/tolerance right now, but eventually this kind of stuff will stop being news. I look forward to that day. It’s football, guys and gals!

        There might actually be some upside to drafting an openly gay (and very talented) player on the defensive side of the ball – to exploit homophobia in opposing offensive linemen, who may hesitate to engage in physical contact, allowing him to be more disruptive, i.e. get more sacks, and tackles for loss…that sounds sardonic, but I it just might work. Go Raiders!

        • Walter Spargo

          Actually, the U.S. Military has already blazed the trail for homosexuals. We recognize the union of same-sex couples and even extend spousal benefits to them now. As for me, IDGAF if the person next to me is gay or lesbian. As long as they perform their job and don’t get me killed in combat or in our dangerous day to day duties by being inept or stupid, I could care less what they do or who they sleep with.

          The same should apply to team sports. If the Military can do it, why not the NFL?

  • Raiders8

    I dont want him on the Raiders. Not bc hes gay but all the attn he will recieve. I want the Raiders to be talked about there season, good or bad and not bc they have a gay player on there roster. I have nothing against a gay player. The Raiders need to only worry about football not a player whos gay.

    • James Arcellana

      If he can help them win then why would you care what ppl are talking about?

  • Walter Spargo

    As long as the dude can play and he observes proper team etiquette on the field and in the locker room, I could care less.