All-American Michael Sam is on his way to making history as the first openly gay NFL player. The Missouri defensive end and NFL draft hopeful came out in interviews with the New York Times and ESPN on Sunday night. Estimates have him as a mid-round draft pick in this year's NFL Draft.
In the wake of Sam's barrier-breaking announcement, there's going to be a lot of focus on the negative reactions to Sam, and that's unfortunate. Already Sports Illustrated rushed out a piece featuring NFL executives discrediting Sam's NFL Draft prospects and the sancitity of the locker room under the veil of anonymity. The contrast between Sam's courage in coming out publicly and the NFL executives refusing to attach their name to their quotes about him shouldn't be lost on anyone.
Herm Edwards had a clumsy appearance on ESPN talking about "baggage" and other cliches and crutch words as if the NFL locker room is the most fragile ecosystem on the planet. Nevermind that this year's Missouri team was a game away from playing for a National Championship and won the SEC East with a gay player that was out to his teammates. Then there's draft "experts" lowering Sam on their boards as if being gay was a negative attribute on Madden. And finally, the attention given to the first NFL player to oppose Sam's announcement on Twitter. Patrick Crayton, come on down.
But instead of focusing on the negatives, it's worth lifting up the positives in the Michael Sam story. There are hundreds if not thousands of people voicing their support for the All-American. The day after, his name is still the top trending topic on Twitter. Sam's announcement came with many individuals from all over sports offering their support to him, too. It provides some hope for Sam's journey as the first steps towards true progress and equality in sports.
These are great tweets from great people…
I appreciate the courage of @michaelsamfootball , now I pray the NFL world reflects that same courage & treats him like the athlete he is!
— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) February 10, 2014
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) February 10, 2014
It's wonderful to watch @MikeSamFootball represent the alma mater in such a brave, honest and classy way.
— Wright Thompson (@wrightthompson) February 10, 2014
There is no room for bigotry in American sports. It takes courage to change the culture.
— Malcolm Smith (@MalcSmitty) February 10, 2014
Good for Michael Sam. Well done.
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) February 10, 2014
Very happy for Michael Sam. His courage will inspire millions to live their truth.
— Robbie Rogers (@robbierogers) February 10, 2014
— Mizzou (@Mizzou) February 10, 2014
Hell yeah @MikeSamFootball. Good for you. Much respect.
— Seton OConnor (@HiMyNameIsSeton) February 10, 2014
It appears that @Mikesamfootball is a very high character guy. Beyond athletics, this is what u need in the locker room, & on the field. -SG
— steve gleason (@TeamGleason) February 10, 2014
Our coaches and players knew all along about this and noone said anything. Just show the amount of respect we have for our family.
— Kentrell Brothers✈✈ (@Kentrell_Mizzou) February 10, 2014
Had multiple convos with @MikeSamFootball this year, amazed at his honesty & courage! Once a tiger, ALWAYS a Tiger!
— Chase Daniel (@ChaseDaniel) February 10, 2014
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) February 10, 2014
Congratulations to Michael Sam. Best of luck… and thanks.
— John Amaechi OBE (@JohnAmaechi) February 10, 2014