While Michael Sam has been an object of fascination for fans and media since his decision to announce he was gay before the Scouting Combine, many coaches and personnel men around the league have reacted with a shrug.
That’s because he might be the first openly gay player in the league, but he’s far from the first gay player in the league.
“None of that matters in the locker room,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, via Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. “Every locker room I’ve been in, it’s been all about winning. If you had a hand in us winning, and you were different, guys accepted it.
“Fans? That’s a very different story. I’ve walked into stadiums where gentlemen are teaching their sons how to moon the bus and moms are teaching their daughters what their middle fingers are for, and it’s not a ring. That scares me more, what’s going to be said from the stands. The locker room won’t be a problem.”
Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim echoed that sentiment, saying his part of the world is more concerned with the football evaluation.
“This is a big issue across the country, and you might think G.M.s would be talking to each other and it would be a big topic. And it’s actually not,” Keim said. “I haven’t had one conversation with a G.M. or other personnel guy about the situation.
“I just want to see how he moves on the field, what he runs and what kind of player he is on tape.”
Of course, teams were also carefully instructed not to make his orientation an issue, via a recent memo which reiterated their non-discrimination policy.
But for at least a small part of the process that could lead him to the NFL, Michael Sam is getting his wish — to just be a football player and not a gay football player.