This week NFL draft prospect and former Missouri defensive linemen Michael Sam came out and announced to the world that he was gay in an interview with ESPN’s Chris Connelly.
Sam is expected to be drafted in the upcoming NFL draft and will be the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL.
Sam said in his interview that he told his teammates back in August and they openly received him. It was said that they supported him and that was one of the reasons why he decided to come out to the world this week.
This marks an interesting moment in the history of the NFL. In recent years more and more athletes have been “coming out” and announcing that they are gay.
Some were ridiculed and some were supported, but it is becoming more and more of a norm in years past.
But to this day there hasn’t been an openly gay player that was currently playing in the NFL (and technically Sam still needs to be drafted to fulfill that role, which he undoubtedly will be). The NFL — and football in general — has always been viewed as the sport that there would never be gay men in as it is the manliest sport where the most amounts of testosterone are on display.
It may be the “manliest” sport but it is foolish to think that there aren’t gay men in the NFL right now. There have been countless former players who came out after their careers were over so to believe that there aren’t any now is simply ludicrous.
The issue is that none of them feel comfortable to come out to the world while they are still in the league.
This is where Sam’s decision comes in.
He will be in the NFL (and will probably be a pretty good player at that) and he had the courage to come out and tell the world who he really is before he ever went into a locker room.
Regardless of one’s preferences or beliefs, it takes a lot of courage to do what Sam did. The ultimate reality here is that regardless of what we believe, we all believe in something, and when we decide to tell the world what we believe (or in Sam’s case who he is) it is a tough decision.
Sam knows what he is doing and he will have to live with the consequences of his decision.
It is a lot easier for Sam to make this decision now than for a gay player to do so 30 or 40 years ago, things are much different now. Sam may receive some scrutiny but for the most part he will be greatly excepted wherever he ends up.
My case is not to make a stand in either direction towards Sam’s (or anyone’s) sexual identity; I am here to simply say that it took a lot of courage for Sam to do what he did. And he should be commended for that.
Tyler Rollason is a Winder-Barrow High School graduate and mass communications major at the University of West Georgia. He writes a weekly sports column for the Barrow Journal. You can e-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.