Coming out of the closet to the world is never easy. Especially when you’re a college football standout entering the macho world of the NFL.
Michael Sam took the sports world by storm back in February when he announced in an interview with Chris Connelly on ESPN’s Outside the Lines that he was gay, becoming the first publicly gay college football player and now NFL player.
As if Sam had not received enough backlash for his bravery, just last week, former NFL player and coach Tony Dungy decided to add his two cents to the list of why Sam wouldn’t be a fit for his team.
Dungy said in an interview with the Tampa Tribune:
“I wouldn’t have taken him. Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”
The issue here isn’t Dungy’s personal stance, but rather the larger problem it reflects both in the NFL and our society. All kinds people from different backgrounds — athletes, actors, actresses, musicians, have come out publicly over the years opening up about their sexuality, but if you’re a football player, are you forced to hide it?
Now let’s be honest, there is a 100 percent chance that Sam is not the only gay player in the NFL, but rather the one with the most courage to step up and share with everyone who he really is.
As a sports fan, I could care less about what you do in your bedroom, as long as you’re producing on the field, and it’s pretty sad that’s not the attitude most players and coaches are deciding to take on. Dungy, as well as others, also touched on the idea that having a gay player on the team would cause a distraction that affects the chemistry in the locker room, which reflects another larger issue in the Black community.
You can’t be gay and black. This long-standing issue between Black men and homophobia is something directly reflected in a sport where over 50 percent of the players are African-American. With all the history we learn about discrimination and inequality, you would think some players would shy away from having ill-opinions, but that’s clearly not the case.
Point being, sexual orientation shouldn’t be a taboo topic in the 21st century, or the centerpiece of a conversation at that. It’s understandable that yes, it is a first for the NFL, but really, WHO CARES! Let the damn man play football free of the naysayers who tout the excuse that he comes with “too much baggage.”
We all talk about Johnny Manziel and his partying antics, but no one ever thought twice about having that type of baggage attached to their team. Baggage is baggage and as a head coach, your job is to deal with it. It comes with the job, if you haven’t noticed. To rank sexuality as something unbearable to deal with is not only appalling, but also a discredit to what you bring to the team as its leader.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty