Former Missouri standout Michael Sam dropped a bomb when he announced that he is gay; an announcement that has since brought a lot of questions to mind.
The announcement has caused a whirlwind in the media and among NFL front offices for sure. As co-defensive player of the year in the SEC his talent is without question, and he has been rated a mid-round pick. So when will he go now? Is he going to drop in the draft? Or even out of the draft?
What about the affect on the locker room? Will he be accepted by the players or ostracized and made to feel unwelcome?
Many player have spoken out in favor of Sam and in support of him, but there have been just as many that have criticized him for bringing attention to his sexuality that was unnecessary and will now overshadow his talent.
Some like Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark are wondering if they can treat him like one of the guys or if they will get in trouble with the press and NFLPA if they joke with him about his boyfriend like they would about someone’s girlfriend.
“You want to know how you can behave around this person. Anyone who has been in a football locker room knows that there’s a lot of jokes, a lot of ribbing…. In what ways can you involve him in your conversations? What are the things you can do and say around him that won’t make him uncomfortable? That won’t make him feel that he’s being ostracized? Or that won’t make him feel like he’s being harassed or quote, unquote bullied?”
This is an issue that was brought up during last season when Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin walked out on team because he was allegedly being bullied by Richie Incognito. Since the scandal broke the full transcripts of the text messages between the two have been released, and show that Martin was as guilty as Incognito.
However, had Martin been gay would it have mattered? That’s a question that Sam and the NFL are going to need to answer sooner rather than later.