Bishop Paul Morton Responds to Gay potential NFL Player Annoucement


He goes on to say:

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The New York Time reports:

Mr. Sam, a senior who was listed at 6 feet 2 inches and 260 pounds, had a stellar season as Missouri finished 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl. He was a first-team all-American and was named the Associated Press defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, widely considered the top league in college football. Teammates voted him Missouri’s most valuable player.
Now Mr. Sam enters an uncharted area of the sports landscape. He is making his public declaration before he is drafted, to the potential detriment to his professional career. And he is doing so as he prepares to enter a league with an overtly macho culture, where controversies over homophobia have attracted recent attention.

As the pace of the gay rights movement has accelerated in recent years, the sports industry has changed relatively little for men, with no publicly gay athletes in the N.F.L., the N.B.A., the N.H.L. or Major League Baseball. Against this backdrop, Mr. Sam could become a symbol for the country’s gay rights movement or a flash point in a football culture war — or both.

Mr. Sam, 24, is projected to be chosen in the early rounds of the N.F.L. draft in May, ordinarily a path to a prosperous pro career. He said he decided to come out publicly now because he sensed that rumors were circulating.

“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” said Mr. Sam, who also spoke with ESPN on Sunday. “I just want to own my truth.”

But the N.F.L. presents the potential for unusual challenges. In the past year or so, it has been embroiled in controversies ranging from antigay statements from players to reports that scouts asked at least one prospective player if he liked girls. Recently, Chris Kluwe, a punter, said that he was subject to homophobic language from coaches and pushed out of a job with the Minnesota Vikings because he vocally supported same-sex marriage laws. And last week, Jonathan Vilma, a New Orleans Saints linebacker, said in an interview with NFL Network that he did not want a gay teammate.

“I think he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted,” said Mr. Vilma, a 10-year league veteran.

In a statement Sunday night, the league said: “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the N.F.L. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”

Michael Sam was named a first-team all-American in 2013.Sports of The Times: It’s Time for the N.F.L. to Welcome a Gay PlayerFEB. 9, 2014
Athletes Offer Support to Michael Sam on Social MediaFEB. 9, 2014
At a showcase game for seniors last month, several scouts asked Mr. Sam’s agent, Joe Barkett, whether Mr. Sam had a girlfriend or whether Mr. Barkett had seen him with women.

The league, which has a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation (among other things), is the largest of the major sports leagues in the United States, with about 1,600 players on rosters at any time during the season. But it has never had a publicly gay player.

Over the decades, some players in the major sports leagues did little to conceal their sexual orientation, but they were not out to the public during their careers. A few players have come out upon retirement, like the N.F.L. player Dave Kopay in the 1970s and the N.B.A. player John Amaechi in 2007, both considered pioneers by many gay people.

Last spring, Jason Collins, a 12-year N.B.A. veteran, mostly as a little-used reserve, came out after the season. A free agent, he has not been signed by another team.

Also last year, Robbie Rogers, a former member of the United States national soccer team who later played professionally in England, revealed that he was gay after he announced his retirement. Encouraged by the supportive response, he resumed his career, playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.

While Mr. Sam’s pro prospects are far from certain, several N.F.L. draft forecasters have predicted that he will be chosen in the third round. (Thirty-two players are selected in each round.) Rarely are players who are drafted that high cut by teams; they often become starters, sometimes as rookies.

Between now and the draft, Mr. Sam plans to attend the scouting combine, where players are put through a gantlet of physical and mental tests to judge their readiness for the N.F.L. Mr. Sam might be considered too small for an N.F.L. defensive end, meaning he would have to learn to play as an outside linebacker. But it is reasonable for Mr. Sam to wonder what sort of effect — positive or negative — his declaration will have on his prospects.

“I’m not naïve,” Mr. Sam said. “I know this is a huge deal and I know how important this is. But my role as of right now is to train for the combine and play in the N.F.L.”

I wish this had happened when I was younger. When attitudes in sports change it means that attitudes in society are changing, as well.

Mr. Sam graduated from Missouri in December, the only member of his family to attend college. He grew up in Hitchcock, Tex., about 40 miles southeast of Houston, the seventh of eight children of JoAnn and Michael Sam. It was a difficult childhood; three of his siblings have died, and two brothers are in prison, Mr. Sam said. He was raised mostly by his mother, and he spent some years with another family. All have been supportive of his coming out, he said.

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