The Norman Transcript

Local Sports

February 11, 2014

Right call for Sam regardless of timing

NORMAN — Michael Sam is gay.

How do you feel about that?

If you’re struggling with it, pretend it had been Roy Williams, Teddy Lehman, Rufus Alexander, Curtis Lofton or Frank Alexander — Hey, whatever happened to OU’s great tradition of dominant defenders? But I digress — who came out of the sports world’s closet Sunday.

Each of them earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors, just as Sam earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors this past season at Missouri. 

So think about it that way, if it helps bring this story home any more easily.

What’s amazing is how much we seem to have learned even as the story was barely a day old on Monday.

We’ve learned a collection of NFL executives, honest in their anonymity, have told Sports Illustrated that, you bet, this is going to hurt Sam’s draft status. 

Thought of as a third- or fourth-round choice prior to Sunday, some believe he may not be drafted at all.

My favorite line?

SI quoted an NFL assistant coach as saying Sam’s announcement that he’s gay was “not a smart move.”

Gee, who knew it was so extraordinarily easy to walk in another man’s shoes? 

Or that draft status should supersede honesty with yourself and the world?

We’ve learned that when Sam came out to his Missouri teammates, many of them knew already and, if reports are true, accepted him universally. At the very least, they accepted him well enough not to let the rest of the world in on it until Sam was ready to do it himself.

We’ve learned that Gary Pinkel, Sam’s college coach, and first lady Michelle Obama have come out in support of Sam’s coming out. And we’ve learned that New York Giant co-owner Steve Tisch, as reported NJ.com, believes Sam to be a “gifted athlete and a courageous man,” yet former Jets and Chiefs coach Herm Edwards believes Sam “would bring baggage.”

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