Tuesday Morning Note(Blog): NFL Draft notes

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May 13, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams seventh round pick defensive end Michael Sam talks with the media during a press conference at Rams Park. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Sam Gets Drafted, Why You Aren’t Allowed to be Uncomfortable 

You can’t write an NFL Draft recap without addressing Michael Sam being drafted by the Rams and the subsequent kiss of his boyfriend that followed. It was the biggest draft story, surpassing the first overall pick, the Jaguars reaching for Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel falling to the Browns, AJ McCarron plummeting even further, and any other big story that came out of New York City last week.

Sam isn’t the first homosexual player to play in the NFL and he definitely won’t be the last, but his presence as the first openly gay player to partake in the NFL Draft and his future as the first openly gay player opened some eyebrows while showing that America along with many football fans/players are not ready for Sam to join their ranks. A fact that has really bugged me and concerns me over the future of football, a future that needs more openness in the minds of its fans as well as its players to grow and remain as one of the world’s most popular sports.

Firstly, there is the fact that Sam likely was a victim of job discrimination in plummeting to the seventh round in the first place as many players who are far less qualified than Sam went long before he did this weekend. Yes Sam is a “tweener” who needs to pick what type of body as well as role he is going to fill in the NFL, but he was also the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a leader on a defense that nearly won the SEC Championship last year. Kony Ealy, a much better prospect than Sam admittedly but a player with an equal impact on Mizzou’s success went on Day Two which goes to show the drop in draft stock that may or may not have been due to Sam’s sexuality and the “distraction” it presents due to his differences being perceived as a big deal by the world as well as the National Football League.

The fact that Sam was readily available in the seventh round and teams passed on him, including the Raiders (amongst other teams it needs to be said) who selected Shelby Harris who didn’t play a single down in 2013 after being dismissed from Illinois State, is wrong and concerns a lot of people about how open the NFL is truly going to be to openly gay athletes in the future as if Sam stayed in the closet there is little doubt he would have been selected a lot higher. You can pick apart his tape to make yourself feel better, but you are lying to yourselves if you believe that him coming out as a gay man didn’t lead to a drop in his draft stock. If any teams passed on Sam because of his sexuality and the distraction it may bring they have a right to do so, but if that decision came down to the fact that Sam is a gay man then they are morally wrong and should be ashamed.

Beyond Sam being discriminated against by NFL front offices this weekend, there are the bigots who openly are decrying Sam’s presence in the NFL and in the news cycle. Fans of the league will have their individual opinions and it is easy to ignore the message board bigotry that fills blogs and Twitter every day regardless, but most concerning have been (mostly off the record) comments from people employed by the NFL who aren’t open to allowing equal rights to potential/current gay employees for whatever reasons they may have.

Those people ignore the fact that for the NFL to head into a new generation the league will have to open its doors to people of all sexualities the same way the door was opened to people of all races. Gay rights are the new civil rights and it is just common policy that you shouldn’t be discriminated upon due to who they are, especially if like Sam, being who you are isn’t hurting anybody and is within the confines of the law.

Religious beliefs hold many back from accepting Sam, something that is sad because homosexuality is simply a sin and not the mark of someone who is unfit for society. Especially a brave human like Sam who is just trying to live out his dream while also getting to be open about who he is and who he loves. Is that so wrong? If loving another human being makes you uncomfortable, you should be looking inwards to who you are as a person and not placing blame on Sam, the NFL, ESPN, NFL Network, or the St. Louis Rams for allowing the world to see that there is nothing wrong with being gay. For the NFL, and the world to go forward, the “uncomfortable” feelings towards Sam’s presence in his chosen field of work needs to go away. For the sake of Sam, and for the millions of gay people who feel that they do not have equal rights themselves, that can be achieved eventually.

For now, shame on the people who are causing a world of hurt with views that down the road are going to look downright silly. Michael Sam is an NFL player, a gay man, and the league is better having him in it than they would have been locking him out of a job that he earned by being one of the best defensive football players in one of the best conferences in the country. Be “uncomfortable” with it if you wish, but you are only delaying the inevitable by being against equal rights for gays in general, especially in the workplace something that many forgot to keep in mind when finding justifications for Sam plummeting through the draft a PR disaster that was waiting to happen if he wasn’t selected.