We get it—Michael Sam is gay.
It’s been over a week since his announcement, and media outlets like ESPN have since that time been analyzing and overanalyzing the possibilities of the NFL’s first openly gay player.
Complicating the situation is last week’s release of the Wells Report, revealing at least one of the 32 NFL locker rooms to be a less-than-perfect fit for a gay man.
Or an Asian-American man. Or a partially black man. Or a clearly straight man who is nonetheless labeled a “faggot.” You get the picture.
Jeff Sullivan, a Dallas Cowboys insider who writes for the team magazine, Tweeted last week his prediction that the ‘Boys would take Sam in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft. Though this is of course speculative at best, Sullivan knows the team well enough to make this a legitimate possibility.
Would Michael Sam work for the Cowboys?
This is a high-stakes draft for the Dallas defense. Every pick they make has to be a potential early contributor. Michael Sam probably isn’t an immediate starter, and most experts have him being used as a 3-4 outside linebacker as opposed to a 4-3 defensive end.
But if there’s one thing Sam can do, it’s rush the passer, and that makes him at least worth exploring. New defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is good at coaching up young talent, and while Sam’s game certainly requires some refinement, all the tools are there for Sam to excel in Marinelli’s scheme.
With the sorry state of this defensive line, Sam could be immediately competing for playing time.
This is all contingent, of course, on Sam’s combine performance and who’s left on the board by the time the No. 78 (or No. 79) pick rolls around. But if the Cowboys are ready for Michael Sam, is the city of Dallas?
One must admit that Dallas does not immediately spring to mind when one thinks of the best place for the NFL’s first openly gay player. San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Denver, New York, Miami, Oakland, Washington—any of these cities would seem a more likely fit. Certainly some Cowboys fans would have a problem with this pick.
And then when September rolls around, those same fans will be back in their seat at AT&T Stadium. In Texas, football is king, and one gay player on their favorite team won’t change that.
In any case, most of Dallas is ready. People like Dale Hansen, whose commentary on the subject went viral last week, will drown out any voices of dissent and in time the issue will disappear completely.
When Sam takes the field for the first time in an NFL regular season game, make no mistake—it will be a historic moment. The Cowboys would be fools to leave Sam on the draft board, if he was the best player available, and miss the opportunity to reaffirm their status as America’s Team—a team that plays for all Americans, regardless of where they come from or who they love.