Cleveland, OH, United States (4E Sports) – Defensive end Michael Sam’s revelation of sexuality continues to draw support from peers, including several Hall of Famers.
An All-American defensive lineman at Missouri, Sam said in a February interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that he is “an openly, proud gay man.”
If Sam is drafted next week, he’ll become the first openly gay active player in the history of the NFL.
The Hall of Famers agreed that ultimately, any judgment of Sam will be based on how he produces on field, not his sexuality.
Hall of Fame cornerback Roger Wehrli said Sam will “get along fine” in the NFL because in “locker rooms, people don’t worry about your personal life as long as you produce on the field and you’re a good teammate.”
“If you can play the game, get out there, take licks and give licks like anybody else, I don’t see anything wrong with it,” said Hall of Fame defensive end Fred Dean.
Some of the Hall of Famers noted that the timing of Sam’s decision to reveal his sexuality was ideal because the NFL seems to be more tolerant.
“If he would’ve come out in the ’60s or ’70s, things may be not so good because everybody was really struggling with how to understand differences like that in people,” said Haynes.
“I’ve heard of guys that were gay back then. But certainly there’s been a shift in public opinion and what have you. I’m assuming it may have been different [had a player come out during my career],” added Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.
Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson added that as team captain when he played with former offensive lineman Roy Simmons who announced in 1992 he was gay, he made certain that nothing bad would have happened.