Will The NFL Exhibit Michael Sam’s Courage?
I have always used my page as a source of inspiration and empowerment. Today, as the NFL draft begins for 2014 we are at a crossroads in the fight for Civil Rights in our nation. Over the past year we have watched the first colligate football player “come out” as being gay. Michael Sam made the announcement to the public, and the public rallied around him with support and admiration. His public announcement, however, was not news to the student body or to his teammates at the University of Missouri the way it was to the rest of us. They had known about Sam’s sexual orientation in the start of the season at Mizzou, and through the season they gave him the same love and support that they would give any other star player. They did this, because as a group of 18-23 year olds, they got it. IT being the fact that who you love makes no difference in your character, athletic ability, or the ability to interact with other athletes on the field, in the locker room, or anywhere else. The question now remains- will the big guns in the NFL get IT too? We have watched the SEC defensive player of the year go from being first or second round draft status to ‘will he be drafted at all’ status, and when you look at his record and accomplishments as a player at Mizzou you have to ask yourself- what is fueling the decline in his draft position? Just like the quarterback in a game, the NFL needs to look all the way downfield toward the end zone before the make their play. On the heels of the Jonathan Martin controversy, the league must be very careful in how they let the drafting of Michael Sam play out. This is 2014, our world is transparent, the public sees and hears all. We have seen African-Americans claw their way into professional sports over years of inequality and bigotry. Has the NFL learned nothing from our history? Not drafting Michael Sam will be a stain on the NFL record that it cannot really afford. Moreover, it will only be a temporary setback for his fight, and the fight for equality of the entire LGBT community. Justice and equality do actually have a way of prevailing in our country. This is an opportunity for the NFL to stand up and take a huge step toward that equality. However, if they do not stand up they must understand that come Sunday when the draft has ended, the headlines will not read “The first pick of the 2014 NFL draft is …”, but instead it will read “THE NFL DOES NOT DRAFT MICHAEL SAM”… and we all know that the text under that headline will not be talking about his combine scores. It will be talking about the fact that Sam was not drafted due to his sexual orientation, and at that point the NFL will have secured a seat at the table for itself right next to Donald Sterling. So as the great Payton Manning would say, “Omaha”, NFL- it’s your move! mizzou cbssports espnpuns foxsports @athleteally