University of Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam (above) has been in the news recently. He came out as a gay man and is attempting to become the first openly gay man to play in the NFL. This is a groundbreaking admission for Sam, considering that he plays a sport where extreme masculinity was traditionally synonymous to exceptional gridiron prowess.
Sam is looking to break that stereotype, and he has the credentials to make that a reality. His collegiate career consists of 111 tackles with 32.5 tackles for loss. Sam was named the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, an accolade that’s reflective of his big play ability.
Sam will be eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft in May. His credentials dictate that he becomes a first round pick. However, Sam’s revelation of his sexual preference could make his draft stock drop considerably. There are already three anonymous NFL general managers who have expressed disapproval of Sam’s revelation. Such intolerance reflects the notion that while society has made great strides in accepting our gay brothers and sisters, we still have a long way to go.
As a Washington Redskins fan, I hope general manager Bruce Allen isn’t one of those who are resistant of selecting Sam. The Redskins ranked 18th in the NFL in total defense in 2013. While that’s an improvement from previous units, the defense didn’t make enough big plays to overcome a struggling offense on their way to a 3-13 finish.
Redskins defensive ends Kedric Golston and Jarvis Jenkins haven’t established themselves as anything more than marginal players. At 255-pounds, Sam is on the small side in relation to defensive ends, but he does provide proficiency in stopping the run and rushing the quarterback, key components sorely lacking on Washington’s defense.
It’s easy to see why Sam would be a great fit in Washington. But the Redskins won’t have a selection until the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. By that time he could already be off the draft board. If by chance Sam is still on the board, the Redskins shouldn’t hesitate to draft him.