By JOHN W. PEELERMarch 5, 2014
FORT BENNING, Ga., (March 5, 2014) -- The 2014 National Football League combine is over with and because of it, several players' draft stock has changed.
The combine is all about evaluating talent, meeting coaches from different teams and having a chance to impress those coaches enough to give a team a reason to draft them in the upcoming draft.
Prior to the combine, much was made about Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who told The New York Times and ESPN in February he is gay.
Sam will become the first openly gay player to enter the 2014 NFL Draft, and if selected, will become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
In announcing his sexual preference, Sam said he wanted to make sure he could tell his story the way he wanted to tell it and he wanted to own his own truth.
I applaud Sam for his honesty and forthrightness.
Believe it or not, gay players have existed in the NFL for a long time ... several of whom have come out after completing their careers.
As a fan, sexual preference is not something I care about -- I want someone on my favorite team who will help them win a Super Bowl.
Isn't that what it is all about? Having a player who can contribute?
As a society, we have to embrace people who are different. It is those differences that make us individuals instead of robots.
What fans should be concerned with is Sam's production, which speaks for itself.
During his senior season at Missouri, he was among the top pass rushers in the SEC with 10.5 regular-season sacks. He also had another one in the Cotton Bowl, all despite his lack of size for the defensive end position (6-foot-2, 255 pounds).
Sam will make a good football player, regardless of his sexual preference.
Discounting his production because of his preference would set our country back 150 years and would wipe out all the human rights leaps and bounds we have made since.
The bigger question, though, is can the locker room accept him.
I say it will. Why?
Because, despite personal preference, or whether you agree or disagree with Sam's preference, players who want to continue to make the money they make, will adjust -- and everyone wants to win.
I applaud Sam for his courage. He should be judged on his play, not his preference.