Before and after Sunday’s announcement heard around the world, Michael Sam was and is a 6-foot-2, 255-pound NFL prospect with a chance of playing defensive end or outside linebacker. Throughout the 2013 season he proved to the nation on a week-to-week basis that he was one of the elite defenders in college football. Before teams began to key in on him towards the end of the season, Sam made it seem like getting three sacks in one game was child’s play. It came to no surprise when he became Missouri’s second consensus All-American and was voted SEC Co-Defensive player of the year by the media.
What did come as a surprise for some was Sam’s Sunday revelation.
For me and many other Americans, his announcement marks a monumental moment for American sports. It was only a matter of time before this barrier was broken and frankly, it couldn’t come soon enough. The outpouring of support from NFL players, coaches and GM’s since he came out has shown to me at least that the NFL is ready for an openly gay player.
However, on the flip side, there are still people in those positions who still felt like this was going to cause some backlash. Several NFL general managers and scouts were quoted saying having the first openly gay player in the NFL would cause distractions in the locker room, and that the NFL isn’t quite ready for an openly gay player. NFL analyst and former head coach Herm Edwards went on ESPN following the announcement and said having Michael Sam on your team “would bring baggage to a locker room”.
There is no denying that there will be a huge media circus following Sam all the way up to his first game. It would be safe to bet the house that ESPN will have coverage of Sam’s first day of training camp several days before camp even opens. The media circus more than likely will also carry over to his teammates, as they will undoubtedly be asked questions regarding Sam.