We now live in a time where tolerance and acceptance are preached almost daily. This is specifically true on subjects like religion, politics and sexuality.
On Sunday, University of Missouri All-American DE Michael Sam came out and could become the first openly gay NFL athlete. This is big news for both NFL players and coaches, but also for the league. Sam’s coming out should knock down all sexuality barriers.
In 2013, MLS player Robbie Rogers made history by being the first openly gay athlete. For many years, USWNT has had lesbian players. In both cases, these players were loved and supported by teammates, coaches and the fans.
Missouri DE Sam was SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year and destroyed opposing teams’ offensive lines and quarterbacks. His coming out and sexuality won’t change that as he prepares for the next level. A player’s success on the field is not dictated by whether they are straight or gay but by how they work on and off the field.
On the flip side, his future team ownership, coaches and teammates need to realize that. If a team needs a strong defensive threat and presence, they need to draft Sam. While many things raise red flags about college players to team executives, sexuality should not be one of them.
Sam’s coming out should end all issues surrounding gay athletes in NFL locker rooms around the nation. Teammates need to respect him for the player and person he is rather than wish he was something else. If they can’t put up with having a high-caliber gay teammate then they need to check themselves at the door and leave. Sam is “an openly, proud gay man” and his honesty and vulnerability needs to be respected.
Missouri won the SEC behind Sam’s skilled play, and his homosexuality won’t be the reason he doesn’t succeed in the NFL. He has a chance of making history by being the first openly gay NFL athlete, and he deserves that right based on his skill-set, determination and drive while at Missouri.
Add Phil to your Google Circles and follow him on Twitter @PNaegelyRS.