Last May, after NBA player Jason Collins came out as gay, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’d welcome gay players to the Patriots.
Now that an incoming rookie has come out as gay, Kraft has reiterated — and elaborated on — his position.
“We’re about winning,” Kraft said, via the Boston Herald. “And anyone who can come in here and help us win, I personally don’t care what their ethnic background is, their racial background, the gender preference. If they can help us win, and they’re about team first, then I’m happy to have him here.”
Kraft, who said he previously has talked to coach Bill Belichick about adding an openly gay player, also thinks that being with the Patriots would help Sam.
“If a player were gay and came into this locker room, it would be the most supportive system,” Kraft said. “He’d gain strength by being in here. And it wouldn’t be divisive and he’d make friends for life and they could help him win. . . .
“I really believe that. And it was interesting to me that this young man announced to his teammates that he was gay before the season started. And they had a 12-2 record, they were in the SEC championship game, like us being in the AFC championship game, and they lost to Auburn and beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
“And he was co-defensive player of the year in the SEC. And that was after full disclosure. And that makes me happy. . . . I think it’s good for America.”
NFL teams ultimately are looking for what’s good for them. The Patriots want to win, and they know how to absorb potential distractions without distractions occurring. From drafting Ryan Mallett (a much-scrutinized rookie three years ago) to adding Tim Tebow (whose presence wasn’t a major issue last offseason) to dealing with the aftermath of the Aaron Hernandez arrest, the Patriots know how to navigate waters that would capsize other NFL organizations.