BOSTON, MA – University of Missouri senior defensive end Michael Sam shared his story with the entire world Monday, a story he had already share with his teammates back in August. A story that they kept secret from the world… Michael Sam is gay, and will enter the National Football League as the first openly gay athlete.
Many see Sam’s move as courageous and defining and will open their arms the South Eastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year when he is drafted in three months. In fact, even United States President Barack Obama took to the social media to congratulate the Missouri Tiger.
“Congratulations on leading the way, @MichaelSamFootball. That’s real sportsmanship,” President Obama said on his Twitter account; @BarackObama.
However, there have been some current players in the NFL that have said Sam may have a hard time being accepted into an NFL locker-room. New York Gants cornerback Terrell Thomas admits that it may take time for some players to get use to having a gay teammate.
“I think society is ready for it and America’s ready for it, but I don’t think the NFL is,” Thomas said in an interview with ESPN’s Dan Graziano. “As a player, all you want to know is if he can play. That’s on the field. But in the locker room, it’s different. There’s a lot of talk and joking around, and some guys walk around completely naked all the time, and they might not want to do that anymore… When you add that situation to the mix, I think it’s going to make some people uncomfortable.”
However, that doesn’t mean Thomas is accepting and welcoming to Sam.
“Things are changing, and certain change is inevitable. We have to look at him like a brother and can’t treat him any different,” Thomas said. “But that could be difficult for some people, just the way our locker rooms work.”
For some players, yes it may take some time to adjust to having a gay teammate. But the reality is, it shouldn’t even matter what Michael Sam’s sexuality is. What should matter is his play on the field.
Michael Sam is entering the NFL Draft as an undersized defensive end, which may not bode well for him. Many draft experts predict Sam to fall anywhere between the third and fifth round. Now, team’s may pass on him not because they’re not ready, because they don’t feel their locker-room is ready just yet. Some nice matches for Sam could be the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Indianapolis Colts.
Only time will tell how the NFL accepts Sam, but we wish him the best.