Last night, former Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam announced he is gay. Sam came out during an interview with The New York Times. If a team drafts Sam this spring and signs him, he will become the first openly gay active player in National Football League history.
There's a Texas connection to this national story: Sam is a native Texan, who attended Hitchcock High School in Galveston County. Sam earned first-team All-District honors as a senior in 2008, as both a defensive end and an offensive lineman.
NPR cites a story in Sports Illustrated, which quotes eight NFL executives and coaches in agreeing Sam's coming out may have impacted his draft chances:
"I don't think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet," one of the executives told SI.
"I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down [in the draft]," a veteran NFL scout added. "There's no question about it. It's human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote 'break that barrier?' "
NPR's pop culture desk takes umbrage with Sports Illustrated's sampling of voices:
The obvious question here is: if they'd waited more than a handful of hours to run a bunch of anonymous quotes declaring that this kid had ruined his career before it started, might they have been able to also talk to people at Missouri who found that in the end, nobody cared? That it was only as distracting as the players decided it would be? That coaches, who are decades older than players, sometimes overestimate player sensitivity to this particular issue because the world is changing so quickly with regard to it? Can these really be the only eight relevant voices?
The NFL draft begins May 8.