Earlier I wrote about why the Kansas City Chiefs should keep an eye on Michael Sam in the NFL Draft, and now we have another reason to get behind Sam. In one of the most courageous act by an athlete in sports history, the defensive end for the Missouri Tigers came out as gay on Sunday.
The SEC Defensive Player of the Year is going to be a great addition to whichever team is lucky enough to land him, and is already a terrific role model for any young person who is afraid to be themselves for any reason.
There will be some huge bumps in the road for Sam as homophobia is definitely not uncommon in the NFL. When players lose their heads, it seems like homophobic slurs are there go-to move, and a lot of football fans are even worse. Look at the comments section of any popular article involving sports, and you will likely see plenty of bigotry.
Hopefully NFL teams won’t be afraid to draft Sam, but the distraction and a possibly divided locker room may scare some away. For any team who wonders what it might do to their chemistry, they should take a look at Mizzou’s 12-2 season, one of the best in team history. Sam came out to his coaches and teammates in August and it didn’t seem to disrupt anything there.
What Sam is doing is huge. He is helping to open the door for any athlete who have to hide who they are out of legitimate fear of the consequences. Sam is about to get a first-hand look at this world’s dark side, and he knows it. His courage is going to be an enormous step in the right direction for the sports world, and hopefully others will follow.