University Of Missouri DE Michael Sam, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player Of The Year effectively kicked the Marcus Smart story to the curb yesterday, telling the New York Times’ John Branch, “I’m gay”. While at least one observer took this occasion to weigh in on the threat to public health and safety, Sports Illustrated’s anonymous sources in scouting circles went almost as low. From SI’s Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans :
NFL coaches and executives project a significant drop in Sam’s draft stock, a publicity circus and an NFL locker room culture not prepared to deal with an openly gay player.
“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.“
All the NFL personnel members interviewed believed that Sam’s announcement will cause him to drop in the draft. He was projected between the third and seventh rounds prior to the announcement. The question is: How far will he fall?
“I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down,” said a veteran NFL scout. “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?’”
You’ll note The Tim Tebow Traveling Circus was given no fewer than 3 opportunities at employment with an NFL team. Hopefully, SI’s sources are not fully representative of Sam’s possible employers or teammates.