Last summer there were constant reports stating, after Jason Collins came out, that there were as many as four NFL players who were on the verge of coming out as the first openly gay, active, football players. (NFL) There have been major strides in sports, and sports entertainment, regarding homosexuals who have taken the step of letting people know they’re gay and no longer hiding it. Jason Collins took the first step, he was followed soon after by Fred Rosser, better known the to fans of pro wrestling as Darren Young. While homosexuality in pro wrestling isn’t really news, having an active worker in the top company in the business come out was a very big deal. (HuffingtonPost) These have been big deals, and slowly society is creeping toward acceptance of homosexuals as just another person, well in places other than Arizona anyway. (CNN) This trend has taken a large step forward, even with the NFL making the statement that if Arizona had passed their anti-gay bill they would consider moving the Super Bowl from the state as a statement against said law. (ProFootballTalk) In the middle of everything one major event occurred, a young man has come out just prior to the NFL Draft, and it’s not just a marginal player, this is a man who was SEC co-defensive player of the year, and a projected third round draft choice, Michael Sam. (ESPN)
Leading up to the Draft college players headed to the pro level wind up going through different interviews, and last year players were getting some rather intriguing questions geared around their sexuality. (NYDailyNews) From what he’s said Michael Sam came out to his team and coaches at the beginning of last season, getting support from all and not having any issues along the way. (TheHollywoodReporter) Michael stated that he wanted to tell his own story, which leads me to believe he was fearing that the questions would be asked again this year and he didn’t want to lie to any teams. Being able to speak up and be yourself instead of hiding behind a lie in the hopes of gaining acceptance in a supremely masculine world like the NFL. The most important statement that anyone can take from Michael Sam in all of the time since he came out on ESPN’s Outside The Lines would be his statement that he just wants to be seen as Michael Sam the football player, not Michael Sam the gay football player. (SportsIllustrated) While Jason Collins making his announcement was big, Michael Sam coming out was much greater due to it coming at the start of his career and not the end. Whether he intended it or not, Michael Sam has become the Jackie Robinson of the gay community, hopefully he’ll be remembered as fondly for his brave decision as his predecessor by the time all is said and done.