Michael Sam, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, opened up about his sexual orientation in an ESPN interview. Sam is listed as 6′ 2″ tall and 255 lbs according to his bio on the Missouri Tigers website. In his Senior season (Redshirt) he recorded 11.5 sacks for a total loss of 71, and he had two forced fumbles, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Sam was honored as a First Team All-SEC as well as a First Team All-American. Being acknowledged as the DPOY of the top conference in the country should be the crowning achievement of his college career. But yesterday he might’ve dwarfed that by announcing he’s gay before ever playing a down in the NFL.
This is where the blurred lines come into affect because Sam could’ve waited to come out until after he was drafted, thus saving himself a lot of scrutiny under the evaluation process. It’s publically known that he came out to his teammates before his Senior season, and by announcing to a future employer that they’d be bringing in the first openly gay player into a locker room in the NFL is quite the risk. Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin may have spurned this to happen, but whatever the case this is a landmark announcement considering Sam’s on-field accomplishments and possible success at the next level.
Michael Sam – the player – is a sure-fire draft pick because the DE position is a highly sought-after commodity considering the NFL’s heavy reliance on the passing game. Any player with the ability to consistently rush the passer could be a star in the league. Aldon Smith – who played with Sam – is one of the best. Michael Sam may be undersized but that shouldn’t keep him from going undrafted. At 6′ 2″ Michael Sam could be seen as undersized but that could work to his advantage as a hybrid DE/OLB. Last year Colts DE Robert Mathis played with his hand on the ground at 6′ 2″ while leading the league in sacks. At the OLB position the Saints Junior Galette had 12 sacks while also coming at 6′ 2″.
All in all the blueprint is there for Michael Sam to be an impact player at the next level. He has the game tape, but many have said his best games against inferior competition. Sam managed to stay at a high level throughout his collegiate career, with a strong Junior season that wasn’t all that bad. Even in High School Sam showed promise with being all-metro in the city of Houston on both sides of the ball.
With the NFL bleeding for players to come in to be pass-rushing specialists, Michael Sam has the ability and track record to be that type of guy. If he’s passed on because of this revelation then it’s clearly because of the ignorance of the league. If that’s the case then clearly society has still got a ways to go. This is not even remotely said in the same breath as Jason Collins, who was an aging player who was on his way out. This is a player that’s starting his career in a league that dominates society. In addition to the fact that he’s produced week in and week out in a conference that is basically the NFL’s D-League, it speaks more loudly to the fact that he could be a star that gives him the platform. Michael Sam won the Cotton Bowl for Missouri with a strip sack that was recovered and returned for a score. If this was a WR from Sam Houston State nobody would care and he wouldn’t be given an interview to announce it on ESPN. This a real player with real promise. If Michael Sam drops in the draft to the 6th Round and then goes out and records double-digit sacks in his first year, then a lot of GM’s will be losing their jobs. NFL owners only care about one thing and that’s winning, if Michael Sam can help a team change their season win total then he’ll be worth the media circus that will certainly be surrounding him before he takes the field for his pro debut.
As for my team, I wouldn’t mind having a guy that could sack the QB a dozen times, did you see the time Manning had in the AFC Championship!