Looks Like Michael Sam Might Not Be First Out NFL Player


At least we were spared tired jokes about "tight ends."

Defensive end Michael Sam got huge amounts of media attention earlier in February for coming out of the closet as his college football career came to an end. The big deal was that he was good enough to play in the National Football League (NFL). If he were drafted and took to the field, he would be the first openly gay, out to the public, professional football player. There have been players that had come out after they had retired, and there are likely players in the league right now that are gay (and teammates know), but Sam was the first to come out to the larger public.

He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams and played in the preseason, got positive responses and some good numbers (including some sacks). But the Rams cut Sam Saturday in favor of another rookie (and they cut the rest of their seventh-round draft picks as well). He has not been picked up by another team yet, nor has he been asked to join the Rams' practice squad.

This does not mean Sam's NFL dreams are at an end, but it certainly adds some challenges. His stats were analyzed in the media probably more than any other defensive rookie in his situation and ESPN ended up with some egg on its face over a segment that essentially asked if Sam was staring at other guys' penises in the showers.

Even if Sam isn't ultimately the first out player, I give it a year, tops. The media may have gotten weird about him, but polls and public reaction to Sam show that an athlete's homosexuality isn't the big deal it would have been, say, a decade ago.