Michael Sam Speaks to Media at NFL Scouting Combine

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Sam, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and likely a high draft pick in May’s NFL draft, announced he is gay prior to the scouting combine. Needless to say, he was in the spotlight as the media interviewed him about his admission.

The story of the weekend is Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam after he became the first NFL draft prospect to admit he was gay. It's unprecedented to say the least, especially with a player with as much stature as Sam.

This is uncharted territory for the NFL, and teams may prefer to not be the first franchise to employ an openly gay player and endure the media attention and potential locker room problems it could cause.

That was the case at Saturday's portion of the NFL scouting combine. Sam was the most sought-after when it came to media interviews, and the crowd he spoke in front of was by far the biggest. Sam admitted he hopes to one day be known simply as a football player above all else.

"Heck yeah I wish you guys would just say, ‘Hey Michael Sam, how is football going? How is training going?'" Sam said. "I would love for you to ask me that question, but it is what it is. I just wish you guys will see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player."

Frankly, this may have been the worst year for a player like Sam to come out on the heels of the Jonathan Martin - Richie Ingonito bullying scandal. Martin was bullied for being perceived as "weak" and "different".

Will that happen to Sam, and are NFL teams willing to risk having a Dolphins-like fiasco on their hands? Sam admitted he has had to deal with negative slurs directed towards him:

"I've been in locker rooms that all kinds of slurs have been said, and I don't think anyone means it," Sam said. "I think a little naïve and uneducated, but as time goes on, everyone will adapt."

"If someone wants to call me a name, I will have a conversation with that guy, and hopefully it won't lead to nothing else."

At least in college, Sam was beloved by his teammates and peers, so much so that it never was revealed publicly that he was gay.

"A good proportion of my student body knew, so word did get out," Sam said. "But we protect one another at Mizzou, apparently. I guess other schools don't."

"Everyone can be normal around me if they want to. We joke around. That's because we're a brotherhood. It's a family, so we can say things to each other. No harm, we don't draw blood. It's all fun and games."

Sam deserves to be treated as any other NFL prospect, and should be drafted regardless of his sexuality. It is clear though that whatever team drafts him, there will be a large media following that comes with him.

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