Before last season, defensive end Michael Sam told the University of Missouri football team he was gay, according to the New York Times.
Sam being gay didn't seem to affect that team at all. The Tigers had a great season, making the SEC championship game. His teammates kept his secret. Sam being gay didn't become public until Sunday night, when Sam announced it to the New York Times and ESPN. Sam is considered a mid-round pick, and when he's drafted he'll be the NFL's first openly gay player.
Missouri's reaction (or, non-reaction) to Sam's sexual preference should throw some water on the narrative that a gay player will totally disrupt an entire NFL team. SI.com published a story in the wake of Sam's announcement that said all eight coaches and executives interviewed said it would hurt Sam's draft stock. But the reaction from NFL players – past, current and future – was mostly positive right after the news broke, which is probably a better indication of how he'll be accepted in a locker room.
The league itself supported Sam in a statement.
“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage," the NFL said. "Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
In April of 2013, commissioner Roger Goodell sent the NFL’s sexual orientation anti-discrimination and harassment policy to all club presidents, coaches and general managers, which reads in part, to "Make sure that everyone understands that harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation are contrary to our values."
The only controversial reaction came from former Cowboys and Chargers receiver Patrick Crayton, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2011. He said, among other things, "There goes the NFL!" and "Stay in the closet and keep ... To urself!!! (sic)"
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