Earlier today, NFL draft prospect Michael Sam told multiple media outlets that he was gay. Sam is an All-American defensive lineman who was also named the SEC Defensive player of the year. In the vaunted SEC, Sam led the conference with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. The 6’2 255 pound Sam would be the perfect solution to the Oakland Raiders pass rushing problems that have plagued the franchise for years. Some teams might be hesitant to draft an openly gay player because of the “machismo” culture in NFL locker rooms. However, Sam came out to his teammates in August and it didn’t hurt the Missouri Tigers, who had one of their greatest seasons in their football history.
Last season, soccer player Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay athlete in American team sports. I was at the annual Cali Clasico match-up between the San Jose Earthquakes and Los Angeles Galaxy at Stanford Stadium, where the Earthquakes made an epic comeback in extra time to win the game. After the game, I interviewed Galaxy stars’ Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane about the heartbreaking (AMAZING) loss. Obviously, both players were in a somber mood as they had to talk about why their team choked against their hated rivals. Celebratory fireworks were ringing throughout the locker room as the players gave their muted answers. As I finished the interviews, I ran into Robbie Rogers who was just as upset as the rest of his teammates. It soon hit me as I was leaving the stadium that Rodgers was openly gay, and his teammates couldn’t care less. The only thing the team cared about was that they had lost to their biggest rivals.
Michael Sam has made history today, because he is likely to become the first openly gay athlete in the NFL. If the Rodgers experience rings true, the only thing that his teammates will care about is if he can help his team win games.