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Oakland Raiders: Why Al Davis Would Have Loved to Have Michael Sam in Silver and Black

Yahoo Contributor Network
COMMENTARY | Michael Sam will be the most talked about story until the NFL draft, and quite possibly longer than that.

In an interview with The New York Times Sunday, Sam admitted to being a homosexual. He will be the first openly gay player in NFL history when he's drafted in May.

His openness of his homosexuality in an environment that revolves around the macho athlete is sure to ruffle the feathers of those who don't support Sam's lifestyle.

Still, it speaks volume of his ability to live a happy life and not give a damn about what anybody else thinks about him.

He's just the kind of player the Oakland Raiders need, and he's just the kind of player Al Davis would have loved.

Davis loved players who were proud of being who they were. The ones who did what they had to do as long as they won. Sam was definitely a winner.

In a conference that thrives on hard-nosed, old-school defense, Sam was a man among boys after being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.

"We're really happy for Michael that he's made the decision to announce this," said Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel. "Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others, he's taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn't matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we're all on the same team and we all support each other."

Pinkel's kind and honest words of Sam exemplify the importance of being able to be yourself in a sport that still circulates around the notion of having to be a "man."

Regardless of the sacks, the wins, or the personal accolades that come with being an NCAA All-American, Michael Sam will be regarded as a hero for his decision to come out during a time when homosexuality remains a controversial topic in sports.

Nobody should ever have to apologize for being who they are, nor should they have to be ashamed of it.

That's the kind of player Davis loved. That's the kind of player Davis wanted everyone to be.

In the book Badasses by Peter Richmond, former Raiders running back Clem Daniels described an incident where black players separated themselves from white players during a practice when Davis was head coach in the 1960s.

"I will not have this bull--t in this organization," is how Daniels recalls Davis's words.

"And after that, there was never a problem," Daniels said. "If any owner will ever protect you, Al Davis will."

Sam didn't talk about his homosexuality for the endorsements, for the history, or for the continuous chatter about being a trailblazer for future gay athletes to come out.

He did it for himself.

I only hope that more people, not just players, are able to follow his lead and say, "to hell with what everybody else thinks."

The world needs more Michael Sams.

Steven Slivka is a breaking news reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He also writes about the Oakland Raiders for the Yahoo Contributor Network. Follow @StevenSlivka on Twitter.

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