Missouri Football All-American Michael Sam comes out. Screen capture from ESPN video.

Missouri Football All-American Michael Sam comes out.
Screen capture from ESPN video.

“I am an openly, proud gay man.”Michael Sam

ONE OF the first things I did when the news of Michael Sam started spreading was text my older brother Larry who has been a Missouri Tigers season tickets holder as long as I can remember. He commented on Sam’s courage, which is really at the heart of the matter here.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel pretty much summed up what my brother thought, too.

“We’re really happy for Michael that he’s made the decision to announce this, and we’re proud of him and how he represents Mizzou,” Pinkel said. “Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others, he’s taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn’t matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we’re all on the same team and we all support each other.” [ESPN]

This is a big moment for Michael Sam, as well as the NFL, with reports already foreshadowing the stone age thinking of the league. From Sports Illustrated:

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

All the NFL personnel members interviewed believed that Sam’s announcement will cause him to drop in the draft. He was projected between the third and seventh rounds prior to the announcement. The question is: How far will he fall?

“I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down,” said a veteran NFL scout. “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?'”

Some coach, somewhere, needs to stand up and prove all the cynics wrong. The spotlight is on the NFL and they need to acknowledge that sexual orientation doesn’t have squat to do with assessing the value of Michael Sam to a team.

Somewhere a young guy hoping to enter the manly man sport of football, but doesn’t think a gay man will be welcome, will benefit from the courage of Mizzou’s Michael Sam.

“I understand how big this is,” he said. “It’s a big deal. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be … I want to be a football player in the NFL.” [ESPN]

Michael Sam is an All-American and he’s proved he’s ready for the NFL. Are they ready for him?

Michael Sam is a champion, on the field and in life.

Michael Sam is a champion, on the field and in life.