At this point, it probably would be easier to list the teams that haven’t issued a statement regarding former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam.
All have been positive, or at least neutral. While we want to be fair to the various teams that have taken the time to issue statements, there’s a cookie-cutter quality that has caused us (and likely you) to glaze over. So we’re now looking for something different in the statements, and the statement from the Ravens had exactly the kind of different we wanted.
“I’m disappointed it is such a big issue in 2014,” Ravens president Dick Cass said, via the team’s official website.
While Cass also said the various other things that other teams are saying about Sam, Cass is right. It shouldn’t be such a big issue.
But it is, because Sam is the first gay NFL player to choose to acknowledge his sexuality. Eventually, it won’t be an issue, whether it’s the fifth player or the 10th player or the 50th player to come out. To get there, however, there had to be a first player.
Hopefully, Sam’s decision won’t result in increased pressure on other gay players to follow suit. As we explained last year, when it appeared that a faction of straight players were determined to persuade multiple gay players to come out, it is every gay player’s right to choose to keep his sexuality to himself.
While many have applauded Sam for being courageous, choosing not to come out doesn’t make a gay player a coward. It’s part of who the player is, and we hope that Sam’s decision won’t be used by those with an agenda to pressure others to follow suit based on notions of solidarity or bravery.