Michael Sam is poised to become the NFL’s first openly gay player if he’s drafted or signs as an undrafted free agent in the coming days. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell welcomes that.
“I want to see Michael Sam get an opportunity to play in the NFL,” Goodell said on ESPN. “We like to say the NFL is the ultimate meritocracy. If you can play football, they want to see you play. The teams want you. The fans want you. And that’s ultimately what it’s all about. I have great respect for Michael, his courage, his decision to become public, and I’m optimistic that he’s going to get that opportunity, and hopefully he can play at this level.”
Although Sam was the defensive player of the year in the SEC, he’s not expected to be drafted until the late rounds on Saturday, if he’s drafted at all. Sam had his best games against lesser competition, and he didn’t do well at the Scouting Combine. He’s not viewed as a great pro prospect.
But as the NFL’s first openly gay player, he will be a great role model for young people, and a good symbol of progress in the NFL. Goodell is right to be rooting for him.