Sam’s the Man

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by Max Felsenstein, Staff Writer

In the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams selected defensive end Michael Sam.  248 players may have been drafted before him but none will have a greater impact than he – even if Sam doesn’t make it out of training camp.

In 2013, as a University of Missouri Tiger, Sam recorded 11.5 sacks, setting a Missouri school record and was named the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year.

Michael Sam not only broke records during his college career but also has made NFL history by being the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team.

When asked, during his introductory press conference, about being the first openly gay player he said, “I guess it’s great” and then laughed, shrugged, and proceeded with the press conference.

Just like on the football field when confronted by offensive lineman, Sam was barraged with questions about his sexual preference, but he simply shook them off like a professional.

Glen Rock High School sophomore, Jack Jensen, said, “I think it ‘s great for a gay player to be drafted, it shows the maturity of the league and it’s players.”

Most people have been very supportive of Sam throughout the process.  Sam said, “My new teammates came to me and said welcome to the family and let’s get to work.”

Sam will need that support network if he is to last in the NFL.  There are many who find every reason to criticize him, saying he’s too small to be a defensive end or too slow to be a linebacker.

Some even personally criticized his embracing and kissing of his boyfriend upon being drafted, as if it were different than what a heterosexual player may have done.

Just like so many young and aspiring athletes across the country, Sam has a dream to one day play in the NFL.  Whether homosexual or not, Sam is a talented player who simply wants the opportunity to prove himself. He wants to be judged for his play on the field and not for his sexual preferences.

Talented or not, Sam will have his work cut out for him, as seventh round picks are routinely cut by the teams that had drafted them.  Sam will have the added pressure of being the first openly gay player and must contend with all of the off-field distractions that are sure to arise.

Glen Rock High School sophomore and football player, John Scandale said, “It shouldn’t matter who he loves off the field, it matters how he plays on the field.”