Unless you’re living under a rock, you have most likely heard about NFL draft prospect, Michael Sam coming out to the public with regards to his sexuality. The majority of people think this story will resonate throughout the league negatively and hurt his draft stock.
While playing defensive-end for the Missouri Tigers, Sam was awarded co-defensive player of the year in the most prestigious conference of college football, the SEC. His outstanding performance included 48 total tackles, 11.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
When the reality of an NFL team acquiring the first open gay player became evident, Sam’s timing was criticized. No one could comprehend why a person would cause such a potential distraction with the NFL draft a couple of months away. As usual, the media exploited the issue and began covering this story relentlessly and gave Sam publicity his potential did not deem necessary.
Political correctness is very big in today’s society. People want to avoid, at all costs, insulting any socially disadvantaged or minority group. It is a vital aspect of speaking to the public and media because otherwise you could be perceived as insensitive. This politically correct attitude that major organizations have could potentially create a positive outlook for Michael Sam.
The reality is that for this new generation homosexuality is largely accepted, and as a result, many choose not to speak out against gay people for fear of being ostracized. Sports analysts, attempting to focus on football, have been raving about how good of a player Sam was at the collegiate level, and he has been receiving a substantial amount of publicity on his play.
In an attempt to avoid being controversial, analysts are making Sam more relevant as a football player than he ever was. Former player Antonio Pierce and others have stated that the only thing that matters is winning games; they have also discussed whether or not Sam could help a team. Many analysts argued that if he wins SEC defensive player of the year he must be able to help a team. There was nobody talking about this a week ago.
In other words, Sam was relatively irrelevant before this story broke. The discussion consistently goes from whether or not he is a distraction, to how productive he was in Missouri.
Political correctness has driven the NFL media to elevate the potential of Michael Sam. That is not to say that they ignore the controversy completely because they do discuss the possible distractions he might bring to a team, but they always follow that with praise.
To avoid the insensitive stigma, the media combats a possible negative with a positive, and talk about Sam as a top player. Michael Sam is receiving the credit and praise of a 1st round prospect, when his realistic range should be 3rd-5th round.
Despite his exceptional season, experts anticipated that Sam would be drafted in the middle rounds ( 3-5). His size makes him the prototypical outside line-backer in a 3-4 defensive scheme, but his deficiency in stopping the run and his poor cover skills exclude him from playing said position. This weakness makes Sam an undersized defensive end, which diminished his value.
The regular sports fan had never heard the name “Michael Sam” in their lives, and now they hear or read about him every day. Like sports fans, NFL organizations are very aware of this situation and also hear how impressive of a player Sam is. With the recent praise Sam has received, he could very well have risen a top of many draft boards.
No one is denigrating the lifestyle that he or other gay people choose, but it is indisputable that Sam has gained tremendous amount of relevancy from coming out.
The spotlight put on Sam’s play could potentially make an organization’s decision more intriguing.
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