Over the weekend Mizzou’s Michael Sam was one of 335 players at the NFL combine. During Sam’s media session, there were several questions about the reactions Sam has received, since publicly announcing two weeks ago that he is a gay.
Sam stated that he didn’t want to be known as a “gay football player,” just a football player.
“I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player,”
Of course, it’ll take awhile for this happened because many are just getting used to the idea of someone open with their sexuality playing. But in my opinion, until he does anything of substance on the football field, his sexuality is just extra information.
Once you go through the whole list of “how did your coach, teammates, fans, etc.” react, if you aren’t in the locker room with him day-to-day, what other questions are there to ask?
“As you may know, Missouri is the Show Me State, and you’d think I’d have shown you guys enough these last couple of weeks,” he said. “But I’m learning with the media, you guys still want more, so ask your questions, and I’ll answer them to the best I can.”
How did Sam perform at the combine? Doesn’t seem like too many were really concerned with that. But he was asked about the perception that he doesn’t have a real position in the NFL and is a tweener.
“I’m a pass-rusher. If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I’m going to get the quarterback,” Sam said. “Whoever the coaches, the GMs, this league is a passing league, and I like to believe in myself as a good pass-rusher.”
Should Sam end up with a team and take the field next season, he won’t be the first openly gay athlete in one of the four major professional sports to do so. He was beat to the punch on Sunday night in Los Angeles, following the Nets signing of Jason Collins.
Collins signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn team and took the court for 10 minutes Sunday as they faced off against the Lakers.
I know there’s the thought process that Sam will receive several endorsement deals. But, until he does something worthy on the field, what is there for him to really push outside of anti-bullying campaigns.
I understand that this is new and uncharted territory, but I also believe that most of the hype about it will come from outside the locker room.