Would the Seahawks be accepting of a gay football player?
Jan 3, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) runs on the field before the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the 2014 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Missouri beat Oklahoma State 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Sam, a defensive end from the University of Missouri, announced on Sunday that he is gay, making him the first openly gay draft prospect in the NFL’s history.
A projected mid- to late- first-round draft pick in the upcoming draft, Sam could also become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
The Seahawks have the No. 32 pick in the draft, but they probably wouldn’t draft the 6-foot-2, 255 pound defensive end because they have a greater need for an offensive lineman or wide receiver.
But what if the Seahawks drafted Sam?
Or what if they drafted another player that later announced he was gay? How would that affect the Seahawks and their chemistry?
First of all, it shouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t.
Back in March of last year, Chris Clemons made headlines for the wrong reasons when he posted a couple of controversial tweets regarding an article by CBS’ Mark Freeman that discussed the possibility of an openly gay NFL player.
After a bit of backlash, Clemons tried defending himself but ended up calling potential gay players “selfish”:
What if the player is an exceptional talent?
Perhaps this is why it has taken until 2014 for a player to open up about his sexual orientation in the NFL (or right before entering the NFL).
The Seahawks “core value statement” is posted on the team’s website and is one of the moral guidelines of the team’s principles.
"The Seahawks organization is guided by overall principles of acceptance and understanding that help us create a culture of respect, equality and inclusiveness both on and off the field.It is our goal to use these core principles and our commitment to passion, character and excellence to empower change within our community.We, as an organization and as individuals, represent and respect a wide range of human differences, personal experiences and cultural backgrounds."
According to a poll by Harris Interactive, 31 percent of Americans believe the NFL is the toughest American sport to “come out” in. That number is the highest of the major sports in the United States.
But Seattle may be seen as more accepting than other NFL cities.In a 2006 article from the Seattle Times, a study found that 12.9 percent of Seattle residents identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. That percentage came second only to San Francisco of the 50 major U.S. cities.
So when will more players come out as gay in the NFL?
Sam is at the moment the only player that is open about his sexual orientation, but that does not mean he is the only gay football player.
There may already be a player in the NFL who is gay. He may even play for the Seahawks.
Times have changed and as the nation becomes more accepting of gays, sports need to as well.
As Seattle’s own Macklemore raps in his song “Same Love”:
"I might not be the same, but that’s not importantNo freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it."
Perhaps in the next few months, more NFL players will agree.