Michael Sam publicly announced that he was gay on February 9th, and will become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
While some might question the sincerity of Sam’s actions, wondering if he came out simply to bring his name to the forefront of sports media in an effort to boost his draft stock, or believe he honestly wanted to give NFL teams a glimpse of who he really is as a person, the road ahead may not be an easy one.
After being named the SEC defensive player of the year, Sam is projected to get drafted between the third and fifth round in this years draft. It is amusing to think about which team would be a solid fit for Sam.
Michael Sam brings with him a fair amount of baggage, some positive, and some negative. While over the past few years progress undoubtedly has been made in regard to LBGT rights in the United States, homosexuality in sports is another, less polished beast to confront. Those who support gay rights are rooting for Sam, and will root for whichever team he ends up with, but that’s not to say it will be all smiles in the locker room.
When it comes to players making decisions off of the football field, to the detriment of their perceived value and talent on the field, the Eagles have displayed a willingness to take in those players when nobody else will.
The Eagles have welcomed players with open arms, when other teams were afraid to touch them because of actions that were taken away from the field. Michael Vick was seen as a monster after the dog fighting scandal.
However, the entire Eagles organization looked passed that, and focused solely on what Vick had to offer on the football field.
Additionally, Riley Cooper quickly went from the villain of the locker room to one of the most appreciated players on the Eagles’ roster.
Cooper was videotaped on camera during the off-season uttering racial slurs towards African Americans. This resulted in a huge loss of trust between Cooper and his teammates, which was visible during training camp. A fight broke out between Cooper and cornerback Cary Williams during a practice and players were quoted saying they felt betrayed by Cooper.
Nonetheless, Cooper owned up to his mistake, and in due time earned back the respect of his team. The Philadelphia Eagles are a team comprised of great character and are led by an outstanding coach in Chip Kelly.
If two men, one of whom committed an extreme act of cruelty, and the other who displayed a complete lack of racial acceptance, are able to repent their way back into the hearts of their fellow teammates and Eagles’ fans, then someone like Michael Sam, who has not caused any harm to anybody, would not have any difficulty finding a warm and welcoming home in Philadelphia.