Michael Sam is the reigning SEC defensive player of the year, a first-team All American monster on the defensive line who wrecked offensive tackles for 10 1/2 sacks in America's toughest football conference. He's also gay, as he announced last night. Considering that Sam is one of the game's top prospects, that means come draft day he'll probably be the first openly gay player in NFL history.
On Twitter, Miami Dolphins players greeted the news with a mix of positivity, confusion, and indifference.
Sam's announcement is particularly sensitive for the Fins, considering that many cast the ugly bullying saga between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin as indirect proof that the machismo pro football locker room culture would never welcome a gay man.
Yet both sides of that fiasco were among the first to tweet their support to Sam.
(Oddly, Incognito seems
to have since deleted that Tweet from his timeline. Nevermind! We just don't know how to read the new Twitter feed.)
Others, like cornerback Brent Grimes, were more cool to the news (a reaction apparently shared by wide receiver Brian Hartline, who retweeted his teammate):
The most negative reaction seemed to come from former University of Florida Gator Mike Gillislee, a running back:
But after a barrage of negative tweets he quickly clarified he wasn't talking about Sam at all:
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Around the league, public support has been strong for Sam's stand from everyone from Deion Sanders to DeAngelo Williams.
Behind the scenes and the cover of an anonymous quote, though, the NFL doesn't sound quite so welcoming. A bunch of team execs told Sports Illustrated last night that Sam's draft stock will take a hit because of his brave announcement. "In blunt terms, they project a significant drop in Sam's draft stock," the magazine says.
Only draft day -- and the locker room reception that follows -- will tell the true story.