So Michael Sam is a "distraction"?


University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam celebrates after Mizzou wins a game against Texas A&M. - CREATIVE COMMONS/MARCUS QWERTYUS
  • University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam celebrates after Mizzou wins a game against Texas A&M.

Yesterday, ESPN released the findings of an anonymous survey asking NFL players if an openly gay teammate would be accepted on their teams. The report was done after Michael Sam, a University of Missouri alum and the 2013 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, came out as gay — and 86 percent of those responding to the survey said they would be OK with a gay teammate.

OK. Here are some other facts.

During the 2009 New Orleans Saints Super Bowl season, safety Darren Sharper had nine interceptions and three touchdowns. Last week, Sharper was charged with seven felonies: two counts of rape with use of drugs, four counts of furnishing a controlled substance and one count of possession. Sharper is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 20. He has denied all charges.

In 2009, former Saints wide receiver Dante Stallworth struck and killed a construction worker after driving home from a Miami nightclub. Stallworth’s blood alcohol level was well above the legal limit. Stallworth pleaded guilty to DWI manslaughter and received a 30-day jail sentence.

In 2008, former Saints defensive end Charles Grant was indicted for involuntary murder after a pregnant woman was shot to death by another man outside a Georgia nightclub. Two years later, the charge was dropped after Grant pleaded guilty to public fighting. Grant paid a small fine and spent a year on probation.

There are plenty of other stories about NFL players who find themselves in — or get themselves into — legal trouble. But will ESPN do a survey asking how someone who was brought up on rape and drug charges might be accepted in a locker room? Will there be an Outside the Lines special asking if players will accept Stallworth onto a new team after his 2009 incident?

I don’t think so.

It’s a wonderful thing that Sam came out and embraced who he is. My question is: Who are the clowns among the 14 percent of players who say they wouldn’t feel comfortable with Sam or any other gay teammate? They find themselves uncomfortable around a gay teammate — and yet they feel comfortable watching their heterosexual quarterback place his hands under another grown man’s backside during the game to receive the snap? These same 14 percent, I suppose, also feel it’s perfectly fine to tackle or block someone —which, when you break it down, is essentially 20 to 40-year-old grown men hugging each other and falling on the ground while wearing protective gear.

The logic of this makes no sense to me. I applaud Sam for having the courage to be proactive and deal with what is probably a ton of questions prior the May NFL draft.

This is the same draft where, according to another ESPN report, some NFL general mangers downgraded Sam’s chances due simply to his sexual orientation.

Hopefully, Sam goes first overall — because Lord knows overall he’s first a human being for having to deal with all this scrutiny before he’s considered just a guy who plays football.

Good luck, Michael.

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