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Fear of having to cut Sam could impact his draft stock

Sam Reuters

Our position on an openly gay player in the NFL has been consistent and clear.  It shouldn’t matter and, hopefully, one day it won’t.

To get to the point where it doesn’t matter, multiple players will have to come out as gay, the media and the fans will have to work through the new reality, and then eventually we’ll all be used to it and it’ll no longer be a story.

For now, a story it is.  And the fact that it’s a story complicates Michael Sam’s situation in multiple ways.  While it’s possible that some teams will shy away from Sam because key decision-makers disagree with homosexuality or because the organization fears the locker room can’t handle the presence of an openly gay teammate, it’s also possible that teams simply won’t want the distraction that comes from Tebow-style presence of ESPN at training camp.

It’s also possible that one or more teams will bump Sam up the draft board because the owner perceives a tangible benefit from being the man who embraces Michael Sam.

There’s another dynamic that could affect Sam’s draft stock.  If, as many have suggested, Sam has settled in as a mid-round NFL prospect, he falls into the gulf of players who’ll have to fight it out in offseason workouts, training camp, and the preseason, with some making the 53-man roster and plenty getting cut.  As one league source explained it to PFT on Tuesday, some teams that would otherwise be inclined to draft Sam will pass, due to a concern that eventually cutting him would spark criticism and controversy.

Sure, hiring Sam would show that there’s no aversion to his orientation.  Including him in the final cuts, however, could raise plenty of questions about whether he got a fair shake, whether he was truly accepted by teammates, and/or whether some in the organization were opposed to drafting Sam in the first place, and whether that faction finally won out.

As potential distractions go, that’s definitely a distraction (not code for intolerance, but a real distraction) no team wants.

So whoever drafts Sam needs to be willing to take the heat that would come from cutting him — or able to keep a guy on the roster who based on football abilities as demonstrated through weeks of workouts and practices and preseason games didn’t fairly earn one of the much-coveted 53 spots.

Again, none of this should matter.  Eventually an NFL player choosing to be openly gay won’t matter.  For now, it will matter to multiple NFL teams in ways that could make it much harder for Sam to get drafted as high as possible, which is the goal of every incoming NFL player.

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40 Responses to “Fear of having to cut Sam could impact his draft stock”
  1. doctorrustbelt says: Feb 11, 2014 4:19 PM

    TRANSLATION: The NFL isn’t ready for an openly gay players but the NFL knows they have to draft an SEC All-America or face a federal lawsuit (fair hiring practices)…. AND… no team wants to be stuck with the job of doing the dirty work (post-training camp cut – not related to athletic ability).

  2. RavenzGunnerz says: Feb 11, 2014 4:21 PM

    Simple really. If you don’t want real life Hard Knocks Show, then you will stay away from him.

    If you don’t mind it though, then go ahead and take him if you think he fills a need that your team require.

  3. shaggytoodle says: Feb 11, 2014 4:22 PM

    Yeah, people will point at his sexuality, even if it is just football move.

    He is also a project player so some teams won’t have patience.

    Like the Browns for instance. They can’t wait for anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 4th overall pick is waived after a disappointing first pre-season game.

  4. zimaman says: Feb 11, 2014 4:23 PM

    that’s a plausible argument for a weak organization like Woody’s Jets or Haslam’s Browns but if the Seahawks, Patriots, Bronco’s say that the kid cant cut it – it because he can’t and they are not going to sweat it. The top tier organizations will not succumb to that kind of pressure.

  5. ravenswhat says: Feb 11, 2014 4:24 PM

    If people have issue with a team cutting him after they give him a chance like any other player, those people are fools anyway.

  6. Phil says: Feb 11, 2014 4:26 PM

    I highly doubt that the NFL would face a federal lawsuit for not drafting Sam. A) Because he wouldn’t file a suit instead preferring the freedom being an UDFA would bring him and B) Because it’s impossible to prove discrimination.

    At worst the only thing that would happen is the NFL would look bad because a player projected to go in the 3rd or 4th round suddenly dropped out of the draft entirely. But that blackeye would go away as soon as the news cycle focused on him signing with a team, how the team and Sam were adapting, how his first season was going,etc,etc.

    That said, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll go undrafted. The NFL is a competitive league. What do you think GM’s and coaches are more worried about? Winning and keeping their jobs or having a gay player on their team.

  7. horsepedlr says: Feb 11, 2014 4:28 PM

    nobody has to draft anybody. i can just see the lawsuits comming if he dosn’t get drafted 3 or better. follow the money.kluewe showing the way.

  8. djshnooks says: Feb 11, 2014 4:30 PM

    Not only that, but he needs to be drafted or signed to a team before anyone can even contemplate him being “cut” from a team.

    Again, pathetic.

  9. purpleguy says: Feb 11, 2014 4:30 PM

    As long as he doesn’t get legal advice from Kluwe’s lawyer, there should be no problem.

  10. usmutts says: Feb 11, 2014 4:37 PM

    So a team will draft him though his sexuality will cause ESPN to camp out there, but then cut him because his sexuality will cause ESPN to camp out there? Doesn’t seem logical to me. But, hey, when does logic play a part in NFL executive decisions? I’m looking at you, Browns.

  11. FinFan68 says: Feb 11, 2014 4:40 PM

    It’s only a story because the media wants it to be. Nobody will come out and admit they won’t take him because he is gay but if anything negative happens to him the media outcry will sound worse than what Kluwe seems like now.

  12. crabcakesfootball says: Feb 11, 2014 4:40 PM

    Some of these NFL executives (probably for bad teams) seem like the most paranoid, over-analyzing people in sports.

    No wonder their teams stink.

    Its baffles my mind that these people play all these things out in their brain instead of putting time into finding the best players.

    I see Sam in Seattle or NE while all the bad teams pass him bc of overthinking it.

  13. uglydingo says: Feb 11, 2014 4:40 PM

    Bill Belichick cut Tim Tebow and could handle the disappointment of his 300,000 followers, Bob Kraft and the wrath of God. He also annoyed Tom Brady by not re-signing Wes Welker.
    The prospect of cutting Sam is no big deal. BB feels the fear and does it anyway.

  14. detectivejimmymcnulty says: Feb 11, 2014 4:42 PM

    He’s undersized for a DE and struggled as an OLB at the Senior Bowl. There goes your lawsuit.

  15. rodh32340 says: Feb 11, 2014 4:45 PM

    Was waiting to see how they would spin it if no team drafted him…..now I see how this will shake out..if we drafted him…we couldn’t cut him because he is Gay!…

  16. anicra says: Feb 11, 2014 4:45 PM

    Really this is bizarre, people suggest the NFL isnt ready blah blah because of this.

    The problem is that , it’s a catch22. If he falls on the bubble.
    /
    If he does not live up to performance standards and is cut. You are going to have media all over it for in most cases for the wrong reasons.
    (team mostly happy, media in a furor)
    /
    On the other hand, the opposite cases can be true. A team hurts themselves by keeping him, for this case his performance is marginal, same as above. Now you have player that normally would be cut however they dont want to deal with media. So they keeps him
    (team unhappy, media happy)

    Neither case had nothing to do open gay, until the media got involved. If he is up to the NFL level and is cut someone will pick him up. I personally believe most teams only care about on field performance.

    What I cannot stand today, if you dont agree with the mainstream view- instantly the “If you aren’t with me, you are against me” view is seen. It is sad state of affairs we have

  17. Deb says: Feb 11, 2014 4:46 PM

    Gay players have been in NCAA and NFL locker rooms for generations. And as with Michael Sam at Missouri, I’m sure many of their coaches and teammates knew they were gay (though apparently none ever confided in Ryan Clark). It probably will be less dramatic for the teams than for the media. And any angst Sam or his teammates experience will more likely be the result of pressures exerted by outside scrutiny rather than internal conflicts.

  18. blackstrat says: Feb 11, 2014 4:46 PM

    See this is the BS surrounding the pc crap.
    He should be judged on his football ability and his character, Period.
    If he is good enough to cut it in the NFL, he should be judged on that alone.
    His sexual orientation should not factor in.

    But if the team that drafts him finds out he cannot play, no one should read into that when they cut him.

  19. rc33 says: Feb 11, 2014 4:48 PM

    There are so many moving parts to drafting this guy, and most of them either uncomfortable or a distraction. This particular one may be as problematic as any of them.

  20. purplehaze28 says: Feb 11, 2014 4:51 PM

    Favre story, please…

  21. hockeyflow33 says: Feb 11, 2014 5:05 PM

    If you don’t think it’s a big deal why have you now devoted several days worth of coverage to a 5th round pick?

  22. therealraider says: Feb 11, 2014 5:07 PM

    The co-DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR in the SEC should have no problem making an NFL team.

  23. nopepper123 says: Feb 11, 2014 5:09 PM

    You avoid the likes of Terrell Owens and Ocho Cinco because of distractions and that will pale in comparison if someone drafts this guy. It’s too bad, but his best bet is to coach a high school football team like Jon Kitna and hope that some team calls him out of the blue when he turns 40!

  24. winstonjed44 says: Feb 11, 2014 5:11 PM

    If that’s the case, then those GMs/front offices are basically admitting that their organizations are weak and could not handle a little extra attention. Manti Te’o was supposed to be a huge distraction, but by the time training camp started, everyone had already forgotten. Let’s be real, it’s not the fear of having to cut him, or the extra attention, it’s having a gay player. No need to hide behind anonymous quotes and excuses.

  25. The Great Ted Thompson the Genius says: Feb 11, 2014 5:21 PM

    It’s going to be tough to cut him with Kluwe’s lawyer hanging around at practice all the time.

  26. kagey7 says: Feb 11, 2014 5:22 PM

    Waiting for the Richard Sherman rant on this subject.

  27. greg2geez says: Feb 11, 2014 5:39 PM

    Once again you’re overstating the medias influence on the NFL. The tail doesn’t wag the dog.

  28. king2007 says: Feb 11, 2014 6:01 PM

    Sam’s scouting report

    – Thrives in Man to Man coverage
    – Great penetrator
    – Superb at finding the hole
    – Loves sacking the QB
    – Enjoys defending the end zone
    – Good awareness when double teamed
    – Doesn’t mind covering a tight end or a wide receiver

  29. kvgrekop says: Feb 11, 2014 6:07 PM

    There will be a team with a solid coaching staff such as the Patriots who know they can get a good character guy with a good team in place to deal with the media. Bellichick basically said we’re not going to talk about Hernandez or Tebow last year and it wasn’t a distraction. The media can only as so many times before it dies…like it did. Same with Chargers handling of Teo. If the team has good leadership all will be good, if not it can turn into a mess.

  30. doggeatdogg says: Feb 11, 2014 6:12 PM

    Saying you are gay is challenging enough, but once the business of football gets going, all players regardless of who they are need to know from the get go that performance is the only barometer that determines if they get to stay in the NFL.

    The NFL should prepare for ‘they cut me because I’m gay’, that may come, but that will work for a limited time and when other ‘out’ players are performing well and getting contract extensions.

    The best thing the NFL can do is institute unbreakable standards and policies even exceeding the current and future NFLPA agreements where no athlete feels he has an edge or some kind of protected status over the NFL based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or whatever. So performance on the field should always trump “It’s because I’m …..

    Such standards must include conduct and behavior in and out of the NFL locker room ie. bullying, sexual harassment between players. I have seen heterosexual ugly when folks connect at work then break up. If all is going to be in the open, they need to research this thing and forward a good plan that will work for everyone.

  31. theparadoxx82 says: Feb 11, 2014 6:18 PM

    but when Florence points out the obvious distraction he’s a bad guy?

  32. chargrz says: Feb 11, 2014 6:34 PM

    He is a fool for releasing this info before the draft. He cost himself alot $.

  33. ryanw822 says: Feb 11, 2014 6:35 PM

    he’s not a good enough player to deal with the headache. The media is the reason Tebow isnt a backup somewhere and the media will be the reason why no one wants this guy. But the media will blame someone though

  34. osiris33 says: Feb 11, 2014 6:39 PM

    Teams would be nuts to draft this guy. He’s not a special player and brings a public relations nightmare along with him.

    But I bet Manti T’eo would love him as a roommate.

  35. bobnelsonjr says: Feb 11, 2014 8:03 PM

    Mike you keep pushing this depraved sexual perversion and deviancy.

    You far left wing kooks are completely wrong. This is not an issue of civil rights, it is a matter of morality, public health, and mental health.

    Anyone taking high school biology knows that this degenerate activity is a flagitious crime against nature.

  36. thestrategyexpert says: Feb 11, 2014 8:21 PM

    So what happened after this picture was taken, did he catch the ball? If so that might help his stock!

  37. lemmetalkwouldya says: Feb 11, 2014 8:57 PM

    some teams that would otherwise be inclined to draft Sam will pass, due to a concern that eventually cutting him would spark criticism and controversy.
    ———————————————————-
    What if the guy just sucks????

    Oh, wait……

  38. cobrala2 says: Feb 12, 2014 11:02 AM

    And for the record I have no problem with Michael Sam ‘coming out’.

    I just hope he can leave it at that. I don’t care what the agenda is, I watch the NFL for great football – not for a platform for personal agendas.

  39. billsfanaddict says: Feb 12, 2014 11:54 AM

    THATS Really why teams some wouldnt draft him. The firestorm you’d get as a GM for cutting him would be hellish! Just look at how many articles have been published about this already, the olympics aint got nothing on this dudes sex-life. It doesnt matter what your reasons are or how legit your intentions were it’d practically be a career killer in this day-n-age of “free” liberal media. You’d be better off beating on your wife & kids then going to jail. At least it’s not a trending or buzz-worthy topic and is fairly commonplace enough that the news outlets would just forget about it quickly or if they even reported on it period. Then you’d have jobs waiting for you on your way back out to freedom.

  40. billsfanaddict says: Feb 12, 2014 3:17 PM

    nothing related to his @home lifestyle should have any impact on anything and we should all be embarassed for having given it so much credence and i truly wish him and the team that drafts him the best of luck because they are all gonna need it. FYI i have not and will not read this or any article related to this young mans sexuality because it aint my business.

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