Michael Sam’s decision to announce he is gay before the NFL draft is courageous, but it could wind up hurting his draft stock.
Sam, a University of Missouri defensive end who came out on Sunday night, will drop in the draft, according to Sports Illustrated. The magazine spoke to eight NFL executives, all of whom said Sam’s announcement will drop him in May’s draft.
“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” an NFL player personnel assistant told Sports Illustrated. “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.”
A former NFL general manager said teams will stay away from Sam because he could become a distraction.
“That will break a tie against that player,” the former general manager told Sports Illustrated. “Every time. Unless he’s Superman. Why? Not that they’re against gay people. It’s more that some players are going to look at you upside down. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in the media is going to show up, from Good Housekeeping to the Today show. A general manager is going to ask, ‘Why are we going to do that to ourselves?'”
Sam is projected anywhere from a third-round pick to a seventh-rounder. Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN believes Sam is a fourth-round talent.
Sam was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year after recording 11.5 sacks for Missouri in 2013. He’s undersized for his position, however, and doesn’t have enough experience in pass coverage to be an obvious conversion to linebacker.
Sam already wasn’t going to be a first-round pick, despite his gaudy stats in the talented SEC. Now, he’s expected to drop even further than his initial projection.
“I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down,”an NFL scout told Sports Illustrated. “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?'”
Photo via Twitter/@Mizzou