Former NFL Coach Warns About Michael Sam’s Coming Out
National Football League draft prospect Michael Sam dominated the news Sunday when he told a number of media publications that he is gay. The NFL draft is in May, and if a team does pick him for their team, he would be the first openly gay American football player, a groundbreaking moment many are hoping will become a reality. And while several people have lauded Sam for coming out, others are voicing their concerns what this will mean for the NFL’s locker room culture.
As the Huffington Post reports, former NFL coach and current ESNP analyst Herm Edwards warned that Sam’s coming out could impact other athletes. The expert compared Sam to a player with "off the field" issues and brought up concerns about how Sam’s fellow teammates would handle the media attention.
"He’s bringing baggage into your locker room," he said. "Can the players handle the media attention they are going to get, when they get the question asked, ’are you okay with a gay teammate?’"
Sam made headlines Sunday when he told ESPN, the New York Times and Outsports that he is gay.
"I am an openly, proud gay man," he said.
If he is drafted, Sam, a defensive lineman, would be the NFL’s first openly gay football player.
While some have said that Sam’s coming out won’t impact his chances of getting drafted, some suspect otherwise. Eight NFL officials anonymously told Sports Illustrated that they believe the media attention will greatly impact the athlete’s chances.
Edwards isn’t alone in his concerns. Just last week it was reported that New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma said he wouldn’t be happy if one of his teammates were gay and he had to shower with him in the locker room.
"I think he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted," the athlete said. "I don’t want people to just naturally assume, oh, we’re all homophobic. That’s really not the case. Imagine if he’s the guy next to me, and you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me, how am I supposed to respond?"
Nevertheless, Sam has received support from fellow athletes and NFL officials. Even First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted him her support Monday.