We knew the day would come eventually. We just didn’t know that the person who was mature and adult enough to handle the inevitable media storm surround a mundane fact about his life would be a 23 year old draft prospect. But that is the case, as Missouri All-American Defensive End Michael Sam announced that he was gay.
This shouldn’t be a big deal, but of course it is. Ignorant purists will somehow argue that the masculine aurora of football will be tainted by a gay player, because that makes sense. Some will say that an openly gay player will cause team trouble and ruffle feathers in the locker room, because they assume that all athletes and those on the program are hardheaded bigots who won’t be able to wrap their head around this unprecedented situation. All I can really say for these people and their arguments, is, well, this. To those believers, I ask them to look at Missouri this year. Sam came out at the beginning of the season, and the Tigers went on to win the SEC East. Not bad.
Sam is now the second active athlete in major sports to come out, after Jason Collins, an NBA journeyman and free agent, came out. Collins has yet to be signed, but travels the nation as a motivational speaker. However, Sam is just about to start his career, and it will be very interesting to track how he does in professional football. Despite earning All-American honors, Sam is only projected to be a third-fourth round pick. If he picks up a couple early injuries, or simply isn’t up to snuff for the NFL, he will likely fade into obscurity. However, if he can impress the team that drafts him, and earn a starting role, he could be one of the biggest figures in all of sports.
Despite that, there is a precedence for anti-gay actions being taken by NFL offices. Former Arizona Cardinals Safety Kerry Rhodes was outed by a supposed ex-lover while he was a free agent in 2012. Despite still being considered one of the better safeties in the game, Rhodes was never signed by another NFL team. Just this past summer, Chris Kluwe, who has been an open supporter of gay marriage, published a rather graphic detail of the bigotry in the front office of the Vikings that lead to him being released by the team. Kluwe was briefly signed by the Raiders, but was released and has yet to be picked up by another team.
It’s hard to predict what will happen, because of course this has never happened before. I cannot help but to applaud Michael Sam for his courage and bravery, in facing what he knows will be an endless amount of ridiculous questions from media and coaching staffs alike. Likewise, I also cannot wait to see where Michael Sam’s career heads. Regardless of his success or potential lack there of in the NFL, I have to believe he will be a prominent celebrity figure for a long time, at least until we get to the time where his sexual orientation isn’t something that is even thought about. As sad as it is to say, that day is likely still a ways away, especially in something as “pure and clean” as professional sports.
What do you think of Michael Sam coming out? Do you think he will be blacklisted or supported in the NFL? We want to hear from you in the comments!