It has been five days now since Michael Sam announced that he was gay. There have been five days to mull over and discuss what this means for the NFL. There have been five days to congratulate a young man on his bravery and also to embarrass yourself on a world stage by saying something negative. Something hateful.
Michael Sam will be the first openly gay player to join the NFL. The SEC defensive player of the year has heard everything by now. He’s heard the well wishes from his future peers in the NFL, he’s heard the cowardly words from hooded NFL executives, the stark reality checks from former players, and the hate from those that are close minded. He must be full of anxiety over what happens to his draft stock. What will happen when a team decides to embrace the new world that is full of different shades and identities. And how walking into his first NFL locker room will feel.
I have three reactions I want to turn to now.
The first is from two CFL players: Bryant Turner and Arland Bruce. Bruce took to social media to express his dislike for a football world full of differing sexual orientations. He had a lot to say but the message was that he thought Sam should “submit fully to God.” Turner tweeted out that: “Michael Sam locker room gonna come with complimentary robes.” Both players were fined. These messages were what we expected. Players of the CFL and NFL have never had a good track record when it comes to keeping their mouths shut.
The second reaction is where I was floored. Anonymous NFL executives told Sports Illustrated that Michael Sam would not be welcomed into the NFL. 12 different NFL GMs, coaches, and scouts were interviewed about Sam. The overall message was that his draft stock would fall and he may not be drafted at all. These 12 men do not think that the NFL is ready for an openly gay player.
A sample of the reactions:
“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.”
Of course, it wasn’t all bad.
One man in particular hit each point that needed to be made so cleanly that I cannot even do it justice by summing it up. Dale Hansen from TEXAS of all places has said everything that needs to be said. Watch his speech and then send out your own congratulatory message to Michael Sam. No hate.