Until the draft is done with, the subject will be debated over and over again: where will Michael Sam end up going? The answer isn’t very easy because of a multitude of factors, such as teams’ readiness to deal with the attention that comes with drafting the first openly gay player. But most importantly, it depends on Michael Sam’s talent level. Mike Mayock, the NFL’s uncontested scouting guru, weighed in on Sam, saying that he was a 3rd to 5th round draft pick. His frame doesn’t make him a prototypical defensive end, but his skill set doesn’t necessarily allow him to play linebacker either. What he does have is an unshakeable motor and belief in himself, which is definitely going to serve Sam well as he steps into the unknown world of being an openly gay player in the NFL. But above all that, when the appropriate time comes to draft Michael Sam, there should be no reason for teams not to do so. There are no character red flags, no off-the-field issues with him. So instead of finding reasons not to draft him, here are a few why no team should pass on Michael Sam.
4 He's a Fearless Trailblazer
3 Immediate Franchise Recognition
Above all, professional football is a business. Some teams may value Michael Sam’s football talent, but they may also value very highly the image he would bring to the franchise that drafts him. Any team to draft the first openly gay NFL player is bound to benefit from new audiences, but is also sure to be seen in a different light. Take for example the MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers. After allowing Jackie Robinson to become the first black player to play in the majors, the Dodgers found themselves elevated to a new level in the baseball world. The mystique and legend of the Dodgers is founded upon those early title runs, that’s a given. But the fact that they broke down the skin color barrier was huge in terms of their place in the baseball hierarchy.
2 Low Risk, High Ceiling
1 He’s A Pro
From his work ethic to the mental part of his game, Michael Sam is an undeniable pro football player. During his first press conference at the combine in Indianapolis, he said he would try and answer anybody’s questions. What he did was answer all the questions he was asked. He hasn’t shied away from who he is, and he hasn’t tried to hide anything about it. He has taken on one of the biggest elephants in the room, and has done it all with class. Even more impressive is that he was able to have his most productive season and lead his college team to a Bowl game victory as an openly gay man amongst his teammates. Remind me again how that could be a disruptive announcement in a football locker room? This being said, there were bound to be confrontations over the subject, but the end result just goes to show how mentally tough and smart Michael Sam really is.
Although he is surely proud of what he is doing and how he is doing it, Michael Sam probably despises the fact that he is being labeled a gay football player instead of just a football player. His resentment doesn’t come from personal insecurity, but rather from the fact that his sexual preference has no reason to be in his title. Odds are that 10 years from now we will be looking back at this and telling ourselves: ‘‘did we really make this a big deal?’’ Some may say that this article only adds fuel to the fire, but this writer felt strongly that the bigotry that's out there needed to be fought with some common sense. But if there’s something I think we all just really want for Michael Sam, is for him to have an extraordinary career without any kind of an asterisk next to his accomplishments.
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