Two weeks, ago I wrote about why the Kansas City Chiefs should keep an eye on Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam in the draft, and on Sunday he publicly came out as a gay man. Sam showed incredible courage and selflessness with his decision to come out, and now it’s time for an NFL team to step up and show some courage by drafting him.
The Chiefs are in a perfect situation to be that team. Yes, there will be a media circus that follows Sam wherever he goes, but if anyone knows how to handle those situations, it’s head coach Andy Reid. We’re talking about a guy who took the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl in the midst of Terrell Owens’ diva prime.
On top of that, in one of the most controversial signings in NFL history, Reid welcomed Michael Vick to the Eagles after he was released from jail for his crimes relating to dog fighting. Reid clearly isn’t afraid of a little media attention, and he also shouldn’t be afraid of how drafting Sam will affect team chemistry. The Mizzou coaches and players have known Sam’s sexual orientation since August, and it didn’t stop them from going 12-2 in one of their best seasons in school history.
Kansas City does not have a lot of salary cap space and may not be able to re-sign DE Tyson Jackson — a 2014 free agent who had a career year in 2013. A defensive end could very well be in the Chiefs’ draft strategy, and Sam could also provide some depth at linebacker if he converted to the position.
Despite being the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and leading the conference with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss, Sam is projected as just a mid-round pick because he is a little undersized for his position. If teams are afraid of the media circus or a divided locker room, his stock could drop even further.
If that were to happen, Kansas City would be foolish not to snag him. To compete in the AFC West, the Chiefs need a consistent pass rush. In 2013, Kansas City averaged 3.8 sacks per game in their wins and just one per game in their losses. Sam could be an amazing value pick in an area of need for the Chiefs.
The amount of courage it will take a team to draft him is a small fraction of the courage Sam has displayed. He just committed one of the bravest acts in sports history and has a very rough road ahead. Wherever he lands, fans and teammates alike should be very proud to have a guy as fearless as Sam on their side.