University of Missouri linebacker Michael Sam shook the sports world last week when he made a public announcement declaring himself as a homosexual just two months before he is likely drafted by an NFL team.
Before now, no NFL player has publicly made the same declaration, so Sam likely will be the first.
Words like “courage” and “hero” have been used to describe him since his announcement hit the associated press wire.
Amazingly, he had told his Tigers’ coaching staff and team before their season began and the news never leaked out. In this world of social media, that is incredible.
That might be a compliment to Sam as a person and as a player on the field. If someone didn’t like him, the news would have leaked out really quickly.
So did Michael Sam show “courage” by coming out before the NFL draft? Some would say yes.
I will admit yes to the point that he knows he will receive a lot of publicity, good and bad, in the wake of his public declaration.
While people may not have known the SEC East Defensive Player of the Year before last week, even the most casual sports fan knows who he is now.
My problem is that at the end of the day he’s informing the entire world what he prefers to take place behind closed doors in what is suppose to be his private live. Frankly, I don’t want to know. I just want him to go and play football and keep his private life to himself.
But I understand Sam had to do something. It was likely the news would get out before the draft and he would not have control over the platform he wants to use. It is clear that his willingness to step forward and let people know is a monumental one for the mainstream sports world.
Will it cause his NFL stock to rise or fall? It’s hard to tell. Some teams will be ready to say they were the first to have a homosexual player. Others will want to avoid the media circus to soon follow.
There’s also the natural concerns of a locker room. I use to suit up in a football locker room. I remember the craziness of those days.
(This next statement might be controversial but it is one that many former football players might think about while choosing not to say it.) I would think twice before changing in front of a player who has told our team up front that he is a homosexual.
You can call it “homophobic” but I think I’m in the majority when it comes to that feeling.
Of course, I was always conscious of my own personal space no matter who was nearby and always tried to change quickly.
Pro players will one day come out and say they don’t mind Sam being in the locker room only to avoid the negative publicity of a perceived “wrong” answer. You can argue whether it is fair or unfair to him. Regardless, the media circus will be coming to whatever team takes him.
And if we look at the Tim Tebow example when it comes to a crazy media circus, Michael Sam could end up falling down the draft board really quick.
Those who read my editorials know my personal take on homosexuality. The Bible calls it a sin and that is the way I see it as well. It joins a long list of other sins that many of us struggle with.
Though I may feel one way about the issue, it shouldn’t and doesn’t effect my love for someone who is a homosexual. Regardless of my own beliefs, I do know Sam is a pretty solid linebacker and will be a great addition to most NFL teams, even my Baltimore Ravens. While his announcement is already giving him instant fame, it remains to be seen how his public declaration will affect him at the pro level.