Michael Sam broke down some barriers over the weekend, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is more than ready to handle it.
Sam, Missouri’s All-American defensive end and Co-SEC Player of the Year, came out during an interview on ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Sunday, which will make the draft prospect the first openly gay player in the NFL, if and when he gets drafted this Spring. Goodell and the league expressed their admiration for Sam’s honesty and courage with open arms on Sunday, but Goodell’s brother Michael, who is also openly gay, views him as more of a pioneer.
“[He’s] an instant hero in the gay and lesbian community,” Michael Goodell said of Sam, according to TMZ.
The commissioner’s brother was very complimentary of Sam’s difficult decision, even comparing him to MLB Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, saying that because of his courage, homosexuality in the football “won’t be an issue in 10-to-20 years.”
Sam’s revelation comes less than a year after NBA center Jason Collins became the first professional athlete to come out. Since revealing his homosexuality, though, the 35-year-old has been unable to land a spot on a NBA roster. There is some concern that Sam could now face roadblocks en route to achieving his dreams.
NFL teams might not want to deal with the media circus that could follow Sam, potentially dropping his draft stock and even dismissing his name from some teams’ draft boards altogether. However, Goodell’s younger brother sounded confident that both his brother and NFL owners would be welcoming of a gay player in their locker room.
“Roger is fine with this. He’s a good businessman and he’s been around this issue his whole life,” Michael Goodell added. “I’ve met a lot of the NFL owners through my brother. They’re businessmen, not homophobes.”