Top NFL Prospect Michael Sam Says He’s Gay

Michael Sam, a defensive lineman at the University of Missouri and top N.F.L.  prospect, has just become a household name. While he has been known in the college sports world as an outstanding athlete, his new notoriety comes not solely because of his football talent but because he publically announced on Sunday that he is gay. Though Americans have become increasingly tolerant and supportive of homosexuality, many people can’t help but wonder whether Sam has damaged his career prospects by coming out in advance of the NFL draft.

However, the Reason-Rupe poll finds that instead Americans don’t really care if their favorite athlete is gay. Seventy-seven percent of Americans say it wouldn’t make a difference and another 10 percent say they would be even more likely to support their favorite athlete. Only 12 percent say they would be less likely to support a favored sports player who came out as gay.

The National Football League has released a statement that echoes the feelings of most Americans: “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the N.F.L. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.” But it remains to be seen whether Sam’s announcement will have any impact come draft time. Jason Collins, a former NBA player, announced that he way gay after the last season ended. Now a free-agent, he has yet to be signed by another team, although NBA commission Adam Silver says this isn’t related to his sexual orientation.

But for now, Michael Sam is feeling good. The New York Times reports that for Sam, “coming out to his team was a positive step, on a path that seems as if it will lead to the N.F.L.” The Reason-Rupe telephone poll of 1,003 Americans finds that 25 percent think having an openly gay professional athlete would be a positive development for society while most, 57 percent, say it wouldn’t make much of an impact either way.

Full details on the Reason-Rupe poll can be found here.

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  • R C Dean||

    So bored.

  • Tman||

    IT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE OF OUR TIME!!!!

  • PapayaSF||

    No kidding. I have had gay friends and colleagues since the Nixon administration, and I live in San Francisco now, but I am getting rather sick of the whole topic. Just do what you want in private and stop the endless blabbing and moral preening. From "the love that dare not speak its name" to "the love that won't shut up."

  • Pro Libertate||

    I heard Vilma getting slammed this morning on a sports radio program for saying something along the lines of guys maybe being uncomfortable with being naked around a gay guy and having to adjust to that discomfort. He may have said more or something worse, but that's the thing the local sports guys (both with the Tampa Bay Times, so naturally in love with anything at all politically charged) were harping on.

    I'm a little unclear on why that particular viewpoint (again, leaving aside anything else he might have said) is so bad. I mean, if an NFL team added a female kicker, let me guess as to whether there would be any dispute about whether she'd be segregated when it came to shower time. Whether or not you agree, it's certainly not something that's so horrid that it can't be said or thought.

  • Sudden||

    If the NFL added a female kicker, she would look like Kathy Ireland circa 1991 and would be carefully and diligently guarded by a Samoan lineman, reminiscent of Dan Saleamua.

  • Ted S.||

    That must be why they decided to put up Yet Another Immigration Thread. :-)

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    WHO.
    THE.
    HELL.
    CARES!

  • fish||

    I do! The 49ers can't get stuck with another gay guy who turns out be be a lemon on the field!

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Jeff Garcia was a decent enough QB. What's your beef?

  • From the Tundra||

    Ok. That was good.

  • fish||

    Actually I was referring to Kwame Harris (shudder....wasted first round draft choice)....I think even though he can set your gaydar off he does alright with the fairer sex.

    http://wheretowatch.com/blog/w.....Carmen.jpg

    Were I him I would have no reason for complaints.

  • RBS||

    John Feinstein and Jim Rome. Although Rome only cares because it gives him an opportunity to insult his less cultured listeners.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Less cultured than Rome? Um, who would that be?

  • wareagle||

    it takes some shovel to dig to that depth

  • John||

    God Feinstein is an insufferable blow hard. Seriously, even for a sports writer he is an insufferably smug idiot.

  • ||

    His name is Feinstein after all.

  • Mike M.||

    This certainly beats falsely proclaiming college lacrosse players to be rapists.

  • John Thacker||

    A few NFL people said it could be "a distraction." Of course, they say that about everything in the NFL, from having to host Hard Knocks to Tebow to everything else. So long as ESPN doesn't go full Tebow on the media circus, it will be fine.

  • ||

    San Diego drafted Teo in the second round and managed to avoid any distraction at all. That was a HUGE story when it broke, so this relatively mild story shouldn't be much of an issue for a team at all.

  • John Thacker||

    Yeah, but I'm sure that anonymous NFL guys leaked to the press that they were concerned about drafting Teo because of the possible distraction, just like this case.

    Anonymous NFL guys will call anything a potential distraction. And then some owner will always order his team to draft whatever famous guy the story is about, so it all works out.

  • ||

    At the end of the day, EVERYTHING is a potential distraction.

  • ||

    San Diego drafted Teo in the second round and managed to avoid any distraction at all. That was a HUGE story when it broke, so this relatively mild story shouldn't be much of an issue for a team at all.

  • prolefeed||

    The NFL is a meritocracy. Teams need talented defensive linemen. I would be surprised if him coming out made any but the most marginal difference in the draft.

  • ||

    The story could be more annoying if his inability to play DE causes his draft stock to drop. He's probably more a 3-4 OLB than DE because of his measurables. And if people like Emily Ekins keep calling him a "top" draft prospect when he was pegged for rounds 3-5 before Sunday then the non-football community is going to wonder if he's being harmed by his sexual orientation when in reality, he's harmed by his size and speed or lack thereof.

    Does it matter that he's gay? Nope. Will it be a story to someone that he isn't a first round pick because they don't know what the fuck they're talking about? Yup.

  • Sudden||

    While it will be determined come combine/pro-day time, his speed for OLB in a 3-4 scheme (where a speedy pass-rush is a premium) is questionable.

    I share your concern that his not being a top draft pick will cause epic shitstorm about how anti-ghey! and heteronormative the NFL is, but I also as a cynical sumbish wonder if his coming out story was entirely intended to bolster his draft stock.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yeah, interesting timiing.

  • Calidissident||

    I've read elsewhere that he was going to be outed. Not sure if that's true. Either way, I don't think it's all that interesting. By coming out now, he gives all the teams the opportunity to account for the distraction this presents before drafting him. Had he came out afterwards, he would have been attacked for hiding it to avoid hurting his draft stock. And there's no way to live life as an openly gay NFL player without people noticing.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Fair enough. 6 of 1 to me in any event.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Yawn.

  • Mike M.||

    "I'm yawning. I'm yawning some more. AND... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz."

  • Sudden||

    His coming out certainly has nothing to do with his potential draft stock being questionable due to his size as a tweener, too small to be an NFL DL and too slow to be an NFL LB. Just like the basketball player (Jason Collins) who came out didn't come out because he was a free agent trying to get one last big money contract worth more than his value to a team by taking advantage of overwhelming politically correct sensibilities.

    Or I'm just a fucking cynic. Or both (most likely answer).

  • Calidissident||

    He was a projected mid-round pick before he came out. It's not like he was borderline undrafted. This definitely doesn't help his draft stock either. Several GMs and executives have said that (anonymously). There are many players (and coaches) in the NFL who aren't comfortable with the idea of having an openly gay player on the team. Even for the GMs who don't have a problem with it, or would like to draft the first openly gay player, they have to take into consideration the media distraction and possible trouble in the locker room. He's apparently been out to his teammates at Missouri since last year. I've read elsewhere that he was going to be outed anyways and wanted to come out on his own terms. I don't really see what the issue is. There's no way for him to openly live his life as a gay NFL player and not be noticed. Had he came out after the draft, people would have attacked him for hiding it to benefit his draft stock.

  • John||

    They may not be "comfortable" but if he is good enough, they will get over it.

    This will hurt his draft stock but someone will take a shot at him. And if he is good, he will have a career. The only way this will really hurt him is if he is a marginal player.

  • Calidissident||

    I agree with that. My entire point was just that I don't think Sudden's argument that he came out to benefit his draft stock is likely, based on all the evidence.

  • Sudden||

    For individual teams/GMs, no it is not a benefit. For the league as a whole, there will now be an orchestrated effort to ensure that this kid lands in a situation that will help him excel. The NFL is insanely popular, owing its popularity to somehow being well received by SWPL progressive white women. It knows that it needs to be seen as socially-responsible in this regard. White bitches don't care if the sport causes retardation or death to its participants, but if a gay is seen as not being given a "fair chance" (read: outcome that matches or exceeds his ability), they will drop the sport in droves.

    The league knows this. And so did this kid's agent.

  • ||

    The NFL is insanely popular, owing its popularity to somehow being well received by SWPL progressive white women.

    Wait, what?

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah, what? Sudden, are you American?

  • Sudden||

    Women like the NFL, maybe not hardcore feministings writing a Jizzabelle, but nominally liberal/progressive women in touch with their feelz that like rape fantasy a la 50 Shades love the NFL. But if they ever percieve it as being insufficently ghey friendly, that will plummet post haste.

  • ||

    Your perception of what women like is...interesting.

  • Sudden||

    They tend not be obsessive fans the way men can get. They're usually front runners. But there is a not insignificant amount of pretty girls in their mid 20's that enjoy football sundays or claim to in an effort to land a beer soaked asshole like myself. Maybe they just pretend, I'm too busy watching the game to give a shit what they really think.

  • Sudden||

    The NFL is the most image-conscious league there is. I guarantee you Roger Godell will be personally working phones during the draft to get this guy selected somewhere above where his ability merits. I'm thinking bottom second round to a team like the Pats that has a need for defensive players, a need to remake its image in the wake of Hernandez, and a culture that can crush the publicity circus.

  • Calidissident||

    Goodell can make all the calls he wants, but ultimately it's going to be the GMs and the owners who pull the trigger. I don't think his pleading will have much effect either way. Maybe the Pats are the team who pull the trigger, but I doubt they do it at a point where they can get a better player, and still get Sam later in the draft.

  • RBS||

    We'll find out soon enough how much control the GM's really have if DC goes after the Skins...

  • John||

    I thought that about Jason Collins and the NBA. But low and behold I don't think he made a team this year.

    In fairness to the NBA, Collins is an aging big man of marginal skill whose career was likely over anyway. But I figured the NBA would lean on someone to sign him to sit on the bench and waive a towel and play one minute every four or five games. But last I heard, not so.

  • IceTrey||

    Weird, he doesn't LOOK gay.

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    He has a deep voice too!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Hadn't heard.

  • ||

    Who cares? He'll be dead of brain injuries in 12 years anyway.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Gay football player gets dropped on his head and goes straight"

    Now that's a story.

  • John||

    It is like anything else, how much of a "distraction" this is is directly proportional to how good of a player this guy turns out to be. If he turns into an all pro pass rusher, wearing a dress and heels to work and insisting on being called Michelle will not be a distraction. If he gets fat or hurt or out of shape or for whatever reason can't cut it or is only a marginal and easily replaceable player, then having to deal with all this gayness will be too much of a distraction.

    Such is how life works.

  • Sudden||

    So the more you suck, the more of a distraction you are. The Tebow phenomenon explained.

  • John||

    Yup. See also the punter who got cut because his coach got tired of him crusading for gay marriage.

  • From the Tundra||

    Or that he was a really mediocre punter...

    A bunch of new legal drama related to that story, btw. Vikings hired a couple of former MN Supreme Court justices to "investigate".

  • John||

    He was totally that. But I wouldn't be surprised if his gay marriage crusade lessened his coaches' patience for his mediocrity.

  • ||

    Supposedly Kluwe had the best stats of any Vikings kicker ever, but he's the one who said that, so I would need external confirmation of it being true.

  • Sudden||

    Punting stats are so decieving. Gross average is a shit metric because it fails to demonstrate the hang time and ability to assist the kick coverage. Inside the 20 and net average are the stats to track.

  • From the Tundra||

    That might be accurate among Vikings (a low bar), but among his peers he was very average. It's very possible that the crusade had something to do with it, but who knows.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    This was a story yesterday. It is not a story anymore, Reason.

  • mr simple||

    Thanks, Emily, for telling us we don't care about a story we don't care about.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Everyone will have to endure this story a little longer, and possibly a few more on the next few fellas who come out prior to or during their careers as professional athletes. But once that storm is weathered, it will no longer be a novelty for sports journalists and they'll go back to finding different ways to parrot box scores as they await the next shiny object.

  • DJF||

    The next one will have to declare that not only are they homosexual, they are pre-op transsexuals who are going to use their NFL signing bonus to become a post-op transsexual who will refuse to wear the regular uniform and insist on wearing a cheerleader outfit with pads and helmet.

  • ||

    The NFL doesn't deal with uniform discrepancies. She'll have to be oppressed into wearing the appropriate attire at her voluntary career.

  • John||

    They still talk about the issue of black quarterbacks FOE. Sportswriters will never get tired of getting their tolerance on and pretending some issue that no one has given a shit about in 25 years is still relevant and they have a duty to be tolerant and explain to their ignorant redneck fans what tolerance means.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think Deadspin just did some big article on black QBs. Like it was a thing still.

  • ||

    Which of course it isn't. No one said one word about Russell Wilson being the second black QB to blow out the Broncos and win the Super Bowl. And it's not because he's only half black. The media uses the same one drop method Jim Crow used. It wasn't brought up because no one gives a shit anymore.

  • John||

    Washington DC went into euphoria when the Redskins traded for RGIII. I never heard a single person say "well is a black man really up to being a starting quarterback in the NFL?".

    Yet these idiots continue to pretend it is a story.

  • Calidissident||

    Russell Wilson isn't half-black

    http://espn.go.com/espnw/athle.....t-virginia

    http://www.sportingnews.com/nf.....his-father

    There's a picture of his mom in the first link and his dad in the second.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What if his parents were both half-black?

  • RBS||

    I'm an attorney not a racematician!

  • Calidissident||

    Possible, not that likely given the small % of kids born at that time who were half-black, half-white. Is there anything to suggest that?

  • Pro Libertate||

    No. I have no idea or opinion. I was just making a joke.

  • ||

    Huh. Per the always reliable Wikipedia his dad has some percentage of Native American. No other races besides black mentioned. But it does explain his hair and lighter skin.

  • Calidissident||

    I largely agree regarding black QBs. Nowadays, while still a minority, they're also over-represented relative to the general population.

    However, I think this is clearly different. If an NFL player being openly gay was no big deal, Michael Sam wouldn't be the first guy to come out.

  • John||

    My point is that they will never stop pretending it is a big deal even long after it ceases to be one.

  • Calidissident||

    Definitely possible. Not necessarily true. But since gay people are a pretty small portion of the population, it may be rare enough that they will keep pretending it's a big deal decades after it isn't.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They do articles but it's hardly the media circus that we're seeing here. I don't think those stories are a distraction.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Has anyone heard Lou Reed Shirley Temple died?

  • ||

    I'm going to get absolutely hammered tonight on Shirley Temples in her memory.

  • ||

    How is that different from every night for you?

  • Pro Libertate||

    Is there any alcohol at all in grenadine or maraschino cherries? Little trace amounts that, when consumed in mass quantities, could result in inebriation?

  • ||

    Family Ties has all the answers you need, ProL.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Wow, you're right! Does Family Ties contain the whole of human knowledge then?

  • John||

    Most of it. Little known fact but Meridith Baxter's breasts were actually a repository of most of the body of human knowledge.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Didn't she switch teams?

  • John||

    Yes she did. I always thought she was pretty attractive. Her switching teams was a very interesting development.

  • ||

    From Wikipedia:

    Baxter said that she didn't realize she was gay until she began her first same-sex relationship in 2002. She states that finally coming to terms with her homosexuality really opened her eyes to the fact that for many years she knew something was different about her and why her relationships with men failed.

    Interesting that you could be oblivious to that your entire life.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If I recall correctly, she had at least a couple superbly bad relationships with men back in the day. Which may have contributed to her switch.

  • C. Anacreon||

    Remember her failed marriage to David Birney, when she was Meredith Baxter-Birney? They starred in a terrible sitcom essentially about themselves called Bridget Loves Bernie. As in all married couples doing sitcoms about married couples (see Lucy and Desi) they ended up getting divorced in real life.

    I wonder if Lucy turned to Vivian Vance in later years, similar to the way Meredith switched sides?

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Who cares? Both of Bob Costas' eyes are infected and he can't work today.

  • Sevo||

    The only use he had for them is reading the human-interest stories off the teleprompter.

  • ||

    What happens when a player claims to be gay in order to drop from high first round crappy team to late first round playoff team but isn't actually gay? Now that's a movie they will fuck up, for sure.

  • Sevo||

    BTW, I heard that Brian Boitano is gay! Can you believe that?!

  • RBS||

    Speaking of gay skaters, have any of you seen the Chopped episode with Johnny Weir?

  • John||

    You leave Johnny alone. You have to respect a guy who is what he is and just doesn't give a shit. And the sad thing was he wasn't a bad cook. He just got chopped because he had starved himself for his sport so long he didn't know how to make normal portions.

  • ||

    He shouldn't have starved himself for his sport. Some of the better male and female skaters had some meat on their bones. Johnny didn't have enough power.

    I miss Katerina Witt.

  • John||

    Katerina as a babe. I don't care if she was working for the Stasi. She was and is hot.

    Reasons why I could have never worked for DOS or the CIA during the cold war. I would always be one East German babe away from going full commie.

  • ||

    Um, weren't the East German female athletes known for being extremely mannish?

    Now, maybe Czech or Russian babes...yowza.

  • RBS||

  • John||

    Just because the track stars and such were on roids, doesn't mean there are not a lot of really good looking German women. There are.

  • ||

    I was wondering what was taking Reason so long to post this story. This is already yesterday's news.

  • GILMORE||

    I will not be impressed in the slightest until a team of 100% Japanese Transsexuals wins the Stanley Cup - in a SWEEP.

    Anything less just belittles real *social achievement*

  • Tony||

    WHO CARES. What possible reason do I have to be reading this article? I am so sick of the gays shoving their buttsex in my face. They really need to leave me the hell alone by not appearing in news articles on websites I might happen to frequent. This jerk is ruining the taste of my coffee by daring to be present in the news against my will.

    I really, really couldn't possibly care less about this subject!

  • MSimon||

    He says he is gay? I think he'll have to prove it.

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