On Sunday February 9, 2014 the world of football was introduced to its first openly gay player. Michael Sam, a defensive end from Missouri, revealed to the world that he was gay. Michael Sam is an NFL prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft and is viewed as a mid round pick.
Sam is an All-American defensive end this year and was the SEC defensive player of the year, registering 11.5 sacks this season.
Last year, Jason Collins became the first active, gay athlete and after Collins’ announcement, the question was posed: “Was the NFL ready for an openly gay player?” Many thought that it wasn’t, but with Sam destined for primetime, the league will have its first openly gay athlete.
The immediate question regarding this news is “Will Sam’s sexuality hurt his draft stock?” While many may think it will, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted this just moments after Sam’s announcement:
Asked a scouting director if he was aware Mizzou’s Michael Sam is gay. “Of course.” Said he’s a late-round pick, thinks it won’t hurt status
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 10, 2014
The jury is still out on how Sam’s sexuality will affect the rest of his career, but what is certain is this: Michael Sam is displaying an amazing amount of courage to announce that he is gay, when it is not clear if the NFL is ready for an openly gay player and one can only hope that this act opens the doors for other gay athletes.
More on this story to come