If nothing else, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam isn't going to hide anything.
Most players worry about a slow 40 time dropping their stock, or they're somewhat nervous about getting past film from one particular game in their career. Maybe Sam has those trepidations as well, but he's dealing with the headline-grabbing issue before it becomes an elephant in the Lucas Oil Field room at the NFL Scouting Combine at the end of the month.
Michael Sam is gay. And he's telling people about it now.
Is his motivation in doing something no one else has done - coming out before the draft, meaning teams will be forced to select the Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year knowing he's nearly certain to create something of a controversy before he ever sets foot on a field as a pro player - or is it more an effort to control the message?
Yahoo! Sports' Eric Edholm wrote a column Monday indicating how the NFL has concerns surrounding a player coming out. This is illustrated by, what Edholm says, is a standard question asked of every prospect: "Do you have a girlfriend?"
Seems like an innocent question, more or less. Or at least one in which the answer can be manipulated for a variety of reasons. The implication here is confirming rumors or getting the answer straight from the source of a player's sexual orientation.
This isn't to say every player is against gays. But one outspoken member of a locker room can disrupt the balance of chemistry that's so critical to a team's success. This also isn't to say Sam is a top 10 prospect who will fall to the middle rounds because he's gay. Most scouting services indicated he's a mid-round prospect at best, and the 6-foot-1, 260 pound Sam appears to be heading toward a career as a stand-up edge rusher. Despite his collegiate production, he'll fall simply because he doesn't have the elite physical traits of a player taken that highly in the draft.
Certainly, he should be given a chance, based on his accomplishments as a college player. More to the point, he shouldn't be denied that chance because of his sexual orientation.
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