By: Martin Weiss
When Michael Sam announced to the world that he’s a homosexual, he was met with overwhelming, vocal support from many in the NFL, including Commissioner Roger Goodell.
He also forced the NFL’s hand in deciding his future.
The issue of homosexuality in the NFL has been discussed many times. Despite players like Chris Culliver saying he wouldn’t welcome a gay player in the locker room during Super Bowl XLVII’s media day or Jonathon Vilma’s comments about showering with a homosexual teammate, the NFL has outwardly taken a stand of acceptance when it comes to homosexuals.
The NFL even made a statement, “We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
Reports say that some NFL general managers already knew that Sam is a homosexual, and had taken him off draft boards. That’s fairly easy to do. Sam was projected to be a 4th or 5th round pick before he came out, and will have a media throng surrounding his every move leading up to and potentially through his first season if not more.
If Sam was a first round talent, somehow swapped games and body with Jadeveon Clowney, I believe this would be a non-issue. Talent almost always trumps other factors in the NFL.
At best, he’s slated to be a specialty pass-rusher. His combine numbers hurt his 4th-5th round projection. He should be one of the players you glaze over with no notice when watching the combine. Instead, because of his announcement, he’s a household name.
How many other potential 5th rounders had their workout highlights shown on SportsCenter?
Because Sam made the courageous move to come out of the closet, the NFL finally has to address the issue of a gay man in the locker room. But it also put him on the map.
NFL teams can no longer leave him off their draft boards because he may be a closet homosexual. Instead, we will pay more attention than ever to the 3rd day of the NFL draft.
Will any team be brave enough to take a chance on a player with little projected upside who will bring a following of media of Tim Tebow proportions? Can a team with legitimate need at the position possibly pass on him, knowing the scrutiny that will befall them?
The NFL is no stranger to situations off the field that cause the public unease. After all, this is a league that dresses women beaters, drug abusers and fathers who make millions of dollars but fail to pay child support.
But, can the NFL allow the first openly gay player ever in their draft pool go unselected? I don’t think so.