Michael Sam, the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year from Missouri, who came out as gay on Sunday and could become the first openly NFL player, graces the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, which asks, “Is the NFL ready” for an openly gay player?
While several teams and coaches said Monday that Sam’s sexual orientation wouldn’t affect his draft status, former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, who contends his championing of gay rights led to his release from the Minnesota Vikings last year, wasn’t so sure.
“The majority of players will be supportive of Michael Sam or just won’t care,” Kluwe told the Associated Press. “You’ll have isolated guys here and there who might try to make a fuss about it, but players by and large are very much, ‘Hey, we’re here to do a job, we’re here to go out and play football.’
“In terms of the coaching/front office side, I think there’s where issues are going to arise because they are going to look at this like, ‘Hey, is this going to cause a distraction for the team?’ And by distraction, they mean, ‘We’re not really OK with having a gay player on our team, we can’t come out and say that, so we’re going to use the word distraction,’” Kluwe added.
“And unfortunately, those are the people who determine if you’re employed or not,” he said.