Michael Sam Becomes First Openly Gay Player in the NFL!

This week, over in America, Michael Sam became the first openly gay American footballer to get onto an NFL team. The 24 year old defensive end joined the St Louis Rams as the 249th selection in the draft (where the best college players get picked up by the pro teams) This has received huge backing from all over the world.

A ‘Man’s World’

The NFL has always been a home of ‘men’s men’, so the idea of an openly gay man coming into the league was always met with lots of scepticism. Now Sam has broken through that barrier, and proven a gay man can make it to the NFL.

The reaction of players and fans alike has been mainly positive. People have described it as a great day for the NFL.

Now there is only one problem for me. As a gay man who likes NFL (big San Francisco 49’s fan…I also hate Eurovision) I know that Sam isn’t good enough to get drafted. I don’t want to go too in-depth as many people may not know anything about the sport, but he is too small for the position he plays, and too big for other ones.

Sam has only been drafted because he is gay in my opinion. The Rams want the feel good story and to sell a few shirts (sales have gone through the roof apparently)

Imagine if he hadn’t been drafted? The accusations of rampant homophobia in the NFL would have been deafening.

The Rams are going to have a problem on their hands, in my personal opinion. At selection number 249, there is no danger of them thinking he is ready to play. Yet I can see every question at every press conference being ‘when is Sam playing?’ and numerous blog pieces from well meaning, yet dumb writers saying he is not playing because he is gay, and that ‘proves there is a problem’.

Totally Conflicted

I am totally conflicted. I am glad Michael Sam has made it, because it may let other gay players who are yet to come out know that it is OK, and that they won’t be ridiculed. Still, I don’t think it will do the gay rights campaign any good if Sam gets an easy ride, or becomes a cause celebre if he doesn’t play. It may actually set the campaign back as no-one wants to put up with the circus surrounding a gay player.

Let’s just get back to football. Society is becoming more accepting of gay people. The Dublin TS escorts are accepted by almost everybody, in work and in the street. We are becoming less and less homophobic.

The barrier has been broken down. Now let him succeed or fail on his own merits. I’m convinced he will fail, but I’m there to be proven wrong.

Go 49’rs!

Martin Ward
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