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NFLThey Said What?

Are Missouri Football Players And Richie Incognito More Tolerant Than Anonymous NFL Executives?

michael sam

We may have jumped the gun by saying the NFL is about to have its first openly gay NFL player. While Missouri defensive end and SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam is certainly gay, and is certainly still preparing for the NFL Draft in April, anonymous NFL executives and scouts are saying his decision to come out may drop him right out of the draft altogether.

According to SI, every NFL personnel member they interviewed regarding Michael Sam said that he will fall in the draft (he was projected by Mel Kiper Jr. to go in the fourth round), and they included a number of uncomfortable quotes to illustrate that, at least according to these people, the league isn’t ready for a gay player:

“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.”

“It’s one thing to have Chris Kluwe or Brendon Ayanbadejo, advocates for gay rights, on your team. It’s another to have a current confirmed player.”

“There’s nothing more sensitive than the heartbeat of the locker room. If you knowingly bring someone in there with that sexual orientation, how are the other guys going to deal with it? It’s going to be a big distraction. That’s the reality. It shouldn’t be, but it will be.”

There’s a pattern to these words: They tend to shift the onus elsewhere. No executive or scout has a problem with gay people, of course — but NFL players totally would. Or so they say. But there are two obvious pieces of evidence that seem to run counter to this line of thinking:

1) NFL players have already expressed support for Michael Sam. While we know that some athletes don’t readily accept homosexuality and will sometimes openly disparage it, that’s not necessarily the popular sentiment anymore. DeAngelo Williams and Malcolm Smith tweeted out their support for Sam yesterday. So did this guy:

While Incognito has already shown that man can live without a brain, and it’s still unclear if the guy is a bigot bully meathead or just a regular meathead, you don’t want to be standing on the wrong side of a social issue when even a guy who calls his “friends” things like “half-n***** piece of shit” is giving his support.

2) The Missouri football team already proved that Sam’s sexuality isn’t an issue. The Tigers went 12-2 this season, and his teammates not only kept the open secret of their All-SEC teammate but rallied around him. Say what you will about the SEC East (which doesn’t include Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, etc.) but Missouri went 7-1 in their conference and by any measure had a great season. There were no locker room issues to speak of — and it’s not like Sam played football for Oberlin College.

Are NFL executives saying their teams couldn’t handle Michael Sam while a bunch of college kids could? That’s either a sorry indictment of a group of grown men and professionals, or these anonymous sources are more bigoted and close-minded than we could have imagined.

Photo via Getty

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