Michael Sam: The trailblazer March 6, 2014 — by Jonathan Young In early February, with the Super Bowl still fresh in the minds of football fans, Michael Sam decided to make history. Sam, an NFL draft prospect, came out as gay, and if signed by an NFL team, will be the NFL’s first active homosexual player. In early February, with the Super Bowl still fresh in the minds of football fans, Michael Sam decided to make history. Sam, an NFL draft prospect, came out as gay, and if signed by an NFL team, will be the NFL’s first active homosexual player. Sam played defensive end at the University of Missouri and was a consensus All-American as well as a First-Team All-SEC. Sam’s on-field success had mock drafts projecting him to go in the early rounds, most likely Round 2 or 3. But, after his announcement, some GMs were reluctant to draft him so high or even draft him at all. GMs across the league fear his off-the-field lifestyle would be a distraction for the team and for Sam himself. His announcement could hinder Sam’s development as a football player and he will be forever labeled as a “gay football player” instead of simply a “football player.” Despite this concern, Sam should be proud of his announcement and continue to prove himself at the next level. Sam’s announcement is a step in the right direction for the acceptance of gays in professional sports. Sam should have no regrets to announcing his sexuality, and he should not be penalized for his personal life. GMs continue to throw money at players with criminal records and questionable infractions. As a player, Sam has impressed throughout his time in college, being a defensive force in the ultra-competitive SEC conference. Michael Sam, the player, deserves to be a high round pick, but GMs are basically implying that Michael Sam, the person, is a late round pick or even an undrafted player. Though there may be some locker room tension due to the novelty of an openly gay man playing in the NFL, this potential concern shouldn't play any role in his draft stock. As it stands now, there may be multiple gay football players playing in the NFL today. The only difference between Sam and the others is his transparency. And if Sam doesn’t turn out to be a superstar player, teams may elect to cut him rather than cope with the media issues surrounding a marginal player. Michael Sam’s courage is to be admired and, based on his pure football talent, Sam should encounter no problems playing in the NFL. The introduction of homosexuality into the NFL is a huge step for the league and for sports as a whole. But, in the end, Michael Sam’s story may be no story at all. If players and coaches accept him, eventually the attention surrounding his sexuality will fade. If this happens, Sam could open the door for other football players to come out.