Commentary

The NFL is still not ready for an openly gay player

Dallas Cowboys practice squad player defensive end Michael Sam (46) runs a drill during team practice Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Irving, Texas.
Dallas Cowboys practice squad player defensive end Michael Sam (46) runs a drill during team practice Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Irving, Texas. LM Otero, AP

Of course, there are legitimate questions about Sam’s skills.

He’s a little too slow to be an outside linebacker, not quite big enough to be a defensive end – one of those dreaded “tweeners” who might have trouble settling on a position. He had some poor workouts leading up to the draft, so it’s only natural that his stock dropped a bit from the original projections that he would go somewhere between the third and fifth rounds. And we’ll even cut the Rams some slack, since defensive end is one of their deepest positions and maybe there really wasn’t any room for Sam.

But it’s beyond comprehension that no one else could’ve used him, or that it took four days from the time he was cut, after most teams had long since stocked up their practice squads, to land a second chance with the Cowboys.

Buffalo Bills lineman Eric Wood might have summed it up best on Twitter, blaming the ESPN report for scaring off any team that might’ve been interested in signing Sam after he was cut by the Rams.

“No one wants the distraction,” Woods wrote.

According to NBC’s Peter King and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, the NFL was so concerned that it called several teams, trying to prod someone into adding Sam to a practice squad. The Cowboys, desperate to improve their pass rush, finally stepped up to keep the league from a total public-relations nightmare.

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Owner Jerry Jones stressed that Sam wasn’t ready to play in the league anytime soon.

At least he’s got a shot, which Sam certainly earned.

“He’s relentless as a worker. He’s relentless as a pass rusher,” Jones said. “He is going to have to make up for a little speed. He’s going to have to make up for size, but how many times have we seen that? That’s what makes football.”

The players, meanwhile, shrugged off Sam’s arrival.

“It’s not a big deal,” Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray said. “If he’s here to help us win, treat him like any other guy. Doesn’t matter.”

If only everyone felt that way.

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