The Norman Transcript

National Sports

February 11, 2014

Hurdles still await Sam

NORMAN — Michael Sam will face a daunting set of challenges that most rookies don’t have to deal with when making the already formidable jump from college to the NFL.

The SEC’s co-defensive player of the year is about to find out if America’s most popular sport, rooted in machismo and entrenched in locker room hijinks, is ready for its first openly gay player.

First, he’ll have to find a team willing to put up with the media circus that will surround him. Then, he’ll have to find acceptance like he did at Missouri, where his sexuality was a non-issue during a 12-2 season. Only now, he’ll face opponents and their fans who know he’s gay. He might even face cheap shots and teammates hesitant to shower alongside him or undress in his presence.

While several teams and coaches said Monday that Sam’s sexual orientation wouldn’t affect his draft status, former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, who contends his championing of gay rights led to his release from the Minnesota Vikings last year, wasn’t so sure.

“The majority of players will be supportive of Michael Sam or just won’t care,” Kluwe said. “You’ll have isolated guys here and there who might try to make a fuss about it, but players by and large are very much, ‘Hey, we’re here to do a job, we’re here to go out and play football.’

“In terms of the coaching/front office side, I think there’s where issues are going to arise because they are going to look at this like, ‘Hey, is this going to cause a distraction for the team?’ And by distraction, they mean, ‘We’re not really OK with having a gay player on our team, we can’t come out and say that, so we’re going to use the word distraction,”’ Kluwe added. “And unfortunately, those are the people who determine if you’re employed or not.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
National Sports
  • Bradford facing another year of scrutiny in newest season

    ST. LOUIS — It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford. Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Judge rules against owner Donald Sterling, but lengthy saga far from over

    LOS ANGELES — Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lost his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer....

    July 29, 2014

  • T-Wolves land guard Mo Williams

    MINNEAPOLIS — Mo Williams is on his way to Minnesota, which means J.J. Barea could be on his way out....

    July 29, 2014

  • LSU freshmen face misdemeanors

    BATON ROUGE, La. — Two LSU freshmen football players face charges, one for allegedly stealing a bicycle outside Middleton Library and the other for allegedly tossing firecrackers into a campus apartment....

    July 29, 2014

  • Fitzgerald says players’ push for union brought Northwestern together

    CHICAGO — No matter how this season unfolds, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald insisted there is no more unified team than his Wildcats. For that, he credits the push for them to unionize....

    July 29, 2014

  • Delany rides fence with PSU

    CHICAGO — Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany took a non-committal stance on an effort by five Pennsylvania Congressmen to rescind sanctions against Penn State for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal....

    July 29, 2014

  • Murray St. aims to be OVC contenders

    Fifth-year Murray State coach Chris Hatcher has returned the program to OVC relevance thanks to his exciting “Hatch Attack” offense. The Racers will need more results if they hope to be serious contenders....

    July 29, 2014

  • Healthy Claiborne ready to show his worth to Cowboys

    OXNARD, Calif. — Morris Claiborne got on Terrance Williams’ nerves the minute the competition started at training camp for the Dallas Cowboys....

    July 29, 2014

  • Lions postpone Suh talks

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The Detroit Lions are postponing contract talks with All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh until after the season....

    July 29, 2014

  • Peppers adjusts to 3-4 defense

    GREEN BAY, Wis. — Standing a sturdy 6-foot-7, Packers pass rusher Julius Peppers poses an imposing sight to opposing linemen even without pads. Good thing Green Bay’s front five only has to go up against Peppers in practice now....

    July 29, 2014