It is not everyday that a team is able to draft a consensus all-American, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-SEC selection defensive end in the mid-late rounds of the NFL draft, but questions regarding his size had originally put a damper on his NFL draft stock as he is only 6’2 and 260 pounds.
This week, Michael came out publicly to say that he is openly gay. If drafted, he would be the first openly gay player in the NFL. While that is quite a notable accomplishment, his sexuality is going to make it hard for him to transition into the NFL. NFL executives already have took him off their team’s board because they are afraid of how the locker room will respond to him being gay.
To that I say, get over it. NFL executives are mostly old white men raised up in an era where tolerance was not to be tolerated when it came to social issues against their own beliefs. NFL teams are filled with young, understanding individuals who have had to overcome many things to get to where they are.
If Michael Sam is going to “chemically imbalance the locker room” as one NFL executive has said, then why did he teammates in college not only not care, but also rallied around him and supported him in when he came out to them?
The head executives of teams need to realize that not all players have the mindset of themselves. Yes, many people in the locker room may use derogatory slurs that may offend gay people, but with the right head coach, he could expel that in the locker room.
Dennis Allen has always preached discipline in the locker room and does not tolerate any sort of hazing, in fact that was one of his first actions when accepting the head coach position was to ban hazing in the locker room. Reggie McKenzie highly esteems character just as much as ability, and he fills his locker room with good, high quality guys in terms of character that should not have a problem with having an openly gay player in the locker room.
Not to mention that pass rusher just so happens to be one of the Raider’s most pressing needs and the ability to use a late round (5th?) pick on a player coming off an 11.5 sack season is too good to pass up. Reggie and Dennis are firm believers in doing anything it takes to help this football team, and if that means drafting an openly gay football player, then they will do it.
Other teams draft talented, athletically gifted thugs that are terrible human beings solely because they can play football, and if any team passes on Michael only because he is gay, then they don’t deserve him.
There will be questions about his size, ability, and level of competition when evaluating him come draft day, but the reward is well worth the the risk. Move him to outside linebacker if needed, he is an inch taller and 50 pounds heavier than Sio Moore as it is, but cutting Kevin Burnett to save a couple million, and slotting him opposite of Moore has the potential to be a prolific combo for the coming years.
The Raiders are in prime position to benefit from the ignorance of other teams and executives, but if they let the fact that he likes different people than the typical man get in the way of helping rebuild their franchise, then they will miss out on a great opportunity and player.