Since University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam came out on Sunday night, reactions from athletes have been, for the most part, positive—except for some NFL officials who say it has soured his stock in the upcoming draft.
Several NFL officials telling Sports Illustrated it will hurt him on draft day because a gay player wouldn’t be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would be uncomfortable because that’s a man’s world. You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs pulling her hair out by the roots—you’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft. You kill people while driving drunk—that guy’s welcome. Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes—we know they’re welcome. Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away. You lied to police trying to cover up the murder—we’re comfortable with that. You love another man—well, you’ve now gone too far.
Other media personalities and athletes are lining up to voice support for the talented young athlete: Jerome Bettis, a former Steeler running back and current sports talk radio host, believes that 90 to 95 percent of NFL players will welcome Sam.
On ESPN's SportsCenter, fellow former Steeler Ryan Clark said, "The one thing we know about the NFL locker room and NFL teams is it's the ultimate team sport. You want the camaraderie. You want that chemistry."
Current NFL players such as Jonathan A. Martin, Pat McAfee, and Tom Crabtree have gone on Twitter to express their support as well. This isn't really a surprise. After all, last summer, Sam told his college football team that he was gay and received a warm response.
Recent events, at least in some parts of the world, show that the LGBT movement's impact has been far-reaching. Just last year, basketball player Jason Collins appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated; he came out as the first openly gay NBA player. When Sam made his announcement, even Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters, “It seems like it’s the right time.”