The NFL draft is over and while it was a fast and furious event of deal making and give and takes, as we all saw in the Kevin Costner movie, Draft Day, it was also time to answer a pretty big question. And if you think I was talking about who got Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny (Football) Manziel, I’m sorry to say you’re wrong. The big question was who would draft the first openly gay football player, Michael Sam, and bring change to the National Football League.
Well, that question was answered in the seventh round when the St. Louis Rams selected the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year. While playing for Missouri, his coaches and players all kept his secret until he decided to disclosed it to the media earlier last year. And to prove that it was not a distraction to either him or the team, he went on to have the best year in his college career. While waiting to get the call, Michael Sam was at the home of his agent, Joe Barkett, and naturally, ESPN, and the NFL Network had camera’s there and at the ready to capture the big moment. Sam had family and friends there as well as his partner and when the call finally came, the 6-foot-2, 255 pound defensive end teared up and gave his boyfriend a kiss on the lips and a long hug. Now while we all knew about the relationship, we thought we could sanitize ourselves from actually having to see a show of affection between Sam and his partner, it seemed to me that he might have jumped a little too far outside the closet with the kiss. ESPN and the NFL Network had their camera’s there just so they wouldn't miss an opportunity to solidify the facts. And just to show everyone that he is comfortable with who he is, after having some cake, he again gave his boyfriend a kiss.
Now the critics say that it was not a sure thing that he would be drafted not because he’s gay, but because of what he had to bring to the NFL. They say that he is too short to play defensive end in the NFL, and slower than most outside linebackers, a position he would have had to transition to in the pros. The mere fact that he was selected 249th overall out of 256, made people wonder if he would be able to even make the grade.
Well, I guess that's a question that's been answered with his recent termination from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. That's where he wound up after he was released from the Rams. Did he get a fair shot? He says that he did get a fair shot, and he will also tell you that he still plans on playing football in the NFL. One thing's for sure, he has broken the ground to enable all gay football players to stick a foot outside of the closet if that's what they wish to do. And with the recent rulings by the courts across this country legalizing gay marriages, it won't be long before the whole gay subject will be passé.
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