By JOHN RIOUX
Earlier this week, former Missouri football player Michael Sam announced in an interview with The New York Times that he is gay.
While the progressive point of view is this should be no news at all, the reality of the situation is there has never been an openly gay player in any major American sport.
I would be more than thrilled if this had no affect on Sam’s upcoming NFL Draft stock, however, that will not be the case.
The NFL has always been the American sport to hold the “macho” title. They are known as the guys who play through concussions and broken bones, so there was no way a gay man could suit up, right?
The various owners and general managers who believe these ignorant stereotypes need a reality check. There will be those who say he will be a distraction because of the media attention, but that will be out of the way after the first week of training camp.
It is important that journalists continue their support of Sam to pressure owners into researching his football talent, not his personal life.
Focus on Sam’s accolades, such as co-SEC defensive player of the year. Winners of this award since 2004 include David Pollack, Patrick Willis, Glenn Dorsey, Eric Berry, Rolando McClain, Nick Fairley, Morris Claiborne, and Jarvis Jones. Another thing these players have in common, they were all first round picks.
While I understand collegiate success does not always translate to the NFL, there are players who have actual issues related to drugs or violation of team rules. When the media examines these problems, teams use answers such as “we thought the reward outweighed the risk.”
I can tell you that also holds true here.
An anonymous source at Missouri who interacts with players on a daily basis said, “that over the season, he barely thought about Sam’s sexual orientation.”
If college students who are not yet fully matured can embrace Sam, this should be no problem for an NFL team.
The news media needs to focus on the idea that this is a game. The ESPNs of the world harp on the SEC being far and away the best conference in college football . Well, Sam was the best defensive player in the best conference of football. If that does not prove enough to move past this issue, I do not know what will.