Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, whose franchise came under scrutiny last year over allegations that a player was treated badly in the locker room, wants to make clear that Michael Sam will be treated well if he ends up in Miami.
Ross released a statement Wednesday supporting Sam, the former Missouri defensive end who is poised to become the NFL’s first openly gay player.
“Michael Sam’s announcement is a significant step in sports and I respect the choice that he made publicly,” Ross said. “His announcement will have no bearing either way on our evaluation of him as a player. Dennis Hickey, Joe Philbin and I all agree on the same thing; we’ll draft the best players that can help us win football games, have high character and contribute to the community. If he is a member of our organization, Michael will be welcomed here with open arms as part of our family.”
Those are the kinds of comments that owners, general managers and coaches around the league have been making in the days since Sam came out. In Ross’s case, the comments may be designed in part to combat criticism that the franchise received when Jonathan Martin left the team and Richie Incognito was suspended for bullying Martin. Where ever Sam winds up, his treatment in the locker room will be closely watched. But Ross knows the treatment of players in the Dolphins’ locker room is already under close scrutiny.