Michael Sam Is Not the NFL's First Gay Athlete
As much of America knows, All-American University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced he was gay before the NFL draft. And he certainly got the league's attention. Many current and former players have commented.
Some have said it's no big deal. Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams tweeted, "I could care less about a man's sexual preference! i care about winning games and being respectful in the locker room!"
Free agent wide receiver Patrick Crayton added this: "A lot of people are mad because I said, 'There goes the NFL,' " he told ESPN. "This young man is [going] to get all the wrong attention for his sexual choice. A lot of players and execs will get asked about playing with a gay guy, and they are going to have to lie about how they really feel."
And former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders tweeted, "Michael Sam isn't the 1st gay player in the NFL, although he is the 1st 2 come out. #realtalk Let's show him love like a family member. Truth."
I don't see the big deal about Sam telling the world he's homosexual. Gay players have been on the gridiron for a long time. In the late '80s, I remember attending a Monday Night Football game in Kansas City. I was in the Chiefs' locker room after the game to visit (the now-deceased) Derrick Thomas, a Hall of Fame linebacker from Miami, when I noticed one of the players (I won't say who) changing clothes near a locker away from the other players. His teammates explained he was gay and chose to change at a separate locker.
At another game I attended, this one including the Houston Oilers, I was waiting outside the locker room for running back Lorenzo White when one of his teammates came out of the locker room, walked up to a man, and kissed him on the lips in front of a bunch of people. It turns out this NFL athlete was dating one of MC Hammer's dancers.
Now if Sam is cut or not drafted, the media will say he was blackballed. The fact is almost no one in the locker room cares about a teammate's sexual preference. Gay or straight, what's important is that athletes play their asses off.
The media reaction to Sam's announcement makes it seem that gay men just arrived in the NFL. They've been there a long time.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
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