Dallas Cowboys always attract attention. It comes with the territory of being 'America's Team'. Some of the NFL's all-time greats have worn the Cowboys jersey, but this season a player who won't even start is getting the most attention.
That man is Michael Sam, and the Cowboys practice squad member is getting attention because of his openly gay status.
If and when he finally starts an NFL regular season game, he will become the first openly gay player to do so.
It seems everyone has an opinion on Michael Sam and his decision to come out. Some say his status is a media distraction that no team wants or needs in the harsh and gruelling environment of the NFL.
Just win baby
But one former Cowboys and Oakland Raiders star, Raghib Ismail disagrees with those opinions.
The former receiver come returner - who once scored two return touchdowns in a college football game in the 1980's, think Percy Harvin-esque - spoke to GiveMeSport this week at a Footlocker promotional event, and 'Rocket' had some explosive words of his own on the Sam saga.
“Team wise I thought it was going to be really tough for him at the Rams. The Rams have All-Pro’s in his position and they are deep. They’ve already developed guys that have the same potential that he has whereas the Cowboys are looking to develop players like Michael Sam,” Ismail told GiveMeSport at a FOOTLOCKER promotional opportunity.
“I think it’s a smart football move. Now that there’s going to be the attention that comes with him being the first openly gay player in the NFL.
“This is the NFL in a nutshell and this is what they will say to Michael Sam. Can you help me win? Are you here because you can help me win?
“If you can help me win then great, but if you are here for some other reason, then it becomes an issue. I know from a players perspective at the end of the day, if your teammate can help you win, nothing else matters.”
Even though Michael Sam is now a Cowboys player, he was initially drafted in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft by St Louis Rams.
But despite winning the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award last season in College Football, in the NFL, his skill set doesn't match up.
He's deemed to be too small to play defensive end and not mobile enough to play at the linebacker position.
This is the main reason he didn't make the Rams 53-man roster, with the Rams strong depth at his position also a major factor.
But why didn't he get a place on their practice squad? Well obviously why would you want to keep a bit part player around if he's going to get that much off the field attention?
You wouldn't and that's got to be the main reason why he isn't on the Rams practice squad.
However, Sam was given an NFL lifeline by the Cowboys, but why? The main reason is that the Cowboys defense is atrocious and they are looking to develop players such as Sam.
And though Sam has plenty of off the field media baggage that comes with bringing him on board, ex-Cowboys star Ismail told GiveMeSport that Dallas is the one place equipped for that media onslaught.
“Now that there’s going to be the attention that comes with him being the first openly gay player in the NFL. In other places in the NFL, that type of attention is a distraction. In Dallas it is par for the course,” Ismail added.
“The amount of attention that the Cowboys get is unreal. He’s going to get attention but for Dallas it’s not a big deal. It’s not going to be a distraction because it’s a part of the Cowboys. In Dallas, man they embrace attention. They don’t want people beating people up obviously, but just for an attention stand point, that’s no problem.”