The Institutional Bigotry Michael Sam Faces in the NFL

Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans, reporting for Sports Illustrated:

While none of the executives overtly condemned Sam’s decision, their opinions illuminated an NFL culture in which an openly gay player — from the draft room to the locker room — faces long odds and a lonely path.

The executives and coaches were granted anonymity by for their honesty. Their answers were consistently unsparing.

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

Why not print the actual slur here? It’s an ugly, jarring word, but bigotry is ugly. “To call someone a faggot is still so commonplace.” That’s the NFL. I think it’s pretty clear that it’s the NFL culture, that accepts this status quo, that is chemically unbalanced.

All the NFL personnel members interviewed believed that Sam’s announcement will cause him to drop in the draft. He was projected between the third and seventh rounds prior to the announcement. The question is: How far will he fall?

“I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down,” said a veteran NFL scout. “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?’”

Did any of these owners watch 42? Is there anyone who thinks today that the Brooklyn Dodgers made a mistake “breaking that barrier” when they signed Jackie Robinson? (The big difference of course, is that Robinson was an All-Star, Hall of Fame caliber player. He’d have been a standout in a color-blind era. Michael Sam isn’t projected to be that caliber of player.)

Sunday, 9 February 2014