Ten months ago, NBA journeymen Jason Collins became the first male athlete to come out and say he was an openly gay man in one of the four major sports. He was applauded by many. Kobe Bryant, President Barack Obama and even conducted an interview with Oprah Winfrey. After his decision to come out about his sexual orientation, many wondered who would be next to admit something about their orientation. Would it be an NHL player, another NBA player, maybe a baseball player or NFL? That was the big question. On February 9th, 2014, NFL draft hopeful Michael Sam admitted to the world that he was openly gay and he will be the first NFL draft prospect that is openly gay and if drafted he will become the first gay NFL player ever.
I’ve seen the tapes and footage of Michael’s game. He was one of the best defensive players in the best conference in the country. At 6’2 and 255 pounds, Michael is a phenomenal pass rusher off the edge and can play inside on the tackle and guard and can still get to the quarterback with ease. He has speed, he plays with a lot of passion and he leads by example. He can get to the ball carrier, he can stop the run and he has a relentless motor. If the quarterback is mobile and is outside the pocket, Michael will run to get after him and you have to respect a player like that, one that gives it everything he has and leaves it all on the football field. He had a great year last year. 11.5 sacks and was co defensive player of the year in the SEC. The scouting report and analysis along with the award all sounds good, right? Unfortunately, after his decision to announce this, his draft stock will drop which isn’t right at all. This guy has the talent to be added on to a team and can bring that pass rush that a team possibly lacks and needs. He was projected to be a mid round pick so that’s about the second or third round. Some feel he may not even get drafted.
Last night, I was asked a question. How would I accept an openly game team in our locker room? I simply replied that I could care less about a man’s sexual orientation and if he was attracted to men or women, as long as he’s going to be beneficial to our team and can contribute to us winning football games, he’s a teammate that will be accepted as any other player would in our locker room. I applaud Michael for making the decision to come out and admit this because times have changed today and people judge and critique others immensely in this day and age especially with social media so prominent in the world and the comments people make today. Whichever team drafts this young man will be in for it sadly from the fans. I truly believe the NFL has prepared themselves for this moment and I also believe that he would be accepted in the locker room with the exception of few but when that well-respected veteran on the team takes him under his wing, I think that’ll make the others on the team comfortable as well. Sometimes, it takes one guy in the locker room to lead by example and show others. That issue right there doesn’t really concern me. I think one thing that will happen if he’s drafted is the usual trash talking that occurs during football games will intensify. You truly have to respect a person for being comfortable with who they are and being comfortable in their own skin.