Missouri defensive end Michael Sam publicly came out as gay on Sunday evening. Sam, a senior who will enter the 2014 NFL Draft, is expected to be the first publicly gay player in NFL history. According to NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, Sam is expected to be a third-to-fifth around pick, but many are wondering how NFL teams will respond to Sam's announcement. In the case of the Eagles, they have said Sam's sexuality doesn't change their opinion on him. From Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Count the Eagles as one NFL team that says Michael Sam’s decision to publicly reveal his homosexuality will not affect the franchise’s willingness or unwillingness to draft him.
"Why would it change anything?" a team spokesman said Monday morning.
This an an encouraging sign. It remains to be seen if Sam is a good fit for the Eagles 3-4 defense, but there's no question he deserves a non-discriminatory, objective evaluation just like every other draft prospect. The Eagles are generally seen as one of the more progressive teams in the league, so it's easy to take them at their word. The Green Bay Packers have also spoke out on Sam:
"I think you definitely have to feel he’s a courageous young man but my understanding is he’s a talented young player," McCarthy said, via Wes Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "We always from Day 1 talked about our program, about our culture. Ted [General Manager Ted Thompson] is going through draft process right now and at the end of the day, it comes down to good football players.
"Any player who can come here and be a good teammate and follow the rules of our program, which is one be respectful and produce on the football field, we have room for that guy."
Some have questioned if Sam's presence in an NFL locker room will be a "distraction." Former Vikings punter and gay rights activist Chris Kluwe warns that this is a code word for intolerance, and expects some NFL owners to have a bigger problem with Sam's sexuality rather than his teammates. Eagles outside linebacker Connor Barwin took to Twitter yesterday to support Sam.
Happy for Michael Sam, much respect and best of luck in the draft.— Connor Barwin (@ConnorBarwin98) February 10, 2014
Eagles slot cornerback Brandon Boykin(g) also weighed in:
Nobody is making this Michael Sam deal any bigger than it's supposed to be except ESPN. Let the man live and let me watch bball highlights— Brandon Boykin (@BrandonBoykin2) February 10, 2014
I highly recommend you read Outsports' exclusive story on how Sam's announcement came to be.
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