You all know my forte’ is the NFL, I don’t make any pretenses over it, nor to I pretend to be an expert at it, but the NFL is what I live, breath and bleed for. So when two major stories break in the same week during the off season, my heart begins to pump, my blood begins to boil, and the adrenaline gives me a bitter taste in my mouth over the excitement. The first story broke as I was doing my show Sunday night, most of my audience were like.. “ho hum, so what” but I knew this was big, and I knew it would be the topic of discussion for more than just one news cycle.
Michael Sam, a 6’ 2” 260 pound senior from Missouri came out Sunday night as a gay man. He is almost guaranteed to be drafted by an NFL team in May, making him the first openly gay man to ever be active in the NFL. This is a big deal, whether you are a fan of the game or not, and the reason it is a big deal is because Michael Sam is about to enter a world where masculinity is a cornerstone of the game. Manly men, doing manly things, knocking one another over, getting physical, using brute strength to gain a few yards here and there, showing off their physical attributes along with an overload of male testosterone. Now that you have that visual, now enter a gay man into the locker room. The stereotypes associated with being a gay man is the complete opposite of what an NFL locker room is, but Sam is about to blow the doors off any and all of those stereotypes come training camp in July. The question of whether there has ever been an active gay NFL player has always been on our minds and the fact is that the numbers show that their probably has been, and in fact, NFL Network recently did a show on former Redskins Tight End Jerry Smith, who played 12 seasons as a closeted gay man, then there is DB Wade Davis, who came out as gay after retiring from the NFL after just a few short seasons with the Titans, Seahawks and Redskins. But there has never been an openly gay man in the NFL. I don’t have a controversial opinion to share, nor do I feel his sexual orientation should be a factor in where he is drafted, but the CBS draft board had him drop from the late second to third round to the bottom half of the draft the day after his announcement.
There have been anonymous quotes made by GM’s in the press stating that they wont draft him cause of his sexuality, due to the “distraction” or because the NFL wasn’t “ready” for an openly gay player, but as I read and listen to these meatheads say and spit out the vile from their mouths, I wonder, who is going to the the GM that takes a chance on this kid, he is a decent player, he was the Defensive player of the year in the SEC last year, and an All-American, certainly he has skills, but some question his ability to adapt to the LB position in the 3-4, and some say he doesn’t have the size needed to play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. I don’t know if this is an excuse, or if it fact, as I haven’t watched tape on him, but one thing is for sure, Michael Sam is about to explode onto the NFL and whether he is welcome with open arms by team mates, or he is ostracized is yet to be seen. The culture of an NFL locker room was exposed this past season with the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga as the type of environment that tends to look the other way when harassment or bullying is present, and in fact is accepted in some form or another. How this kid handles this environment will go a long way to determine just how “ready” the NFL is for an openly gay player. Good luck Michael, I wish you all the best.
The Cleveland Browns once again showed the NFL just how dysfunctional they are, when on Tuesday, owner Jimmy Haslam fired GM Mike Lombardi and CEO Joe Banner will be stepping down in the next two months. Haslam promoted Assistant GM Ray Farmer to GM, and once again the Browns are starting over, which seems to be the standard for this franchise. I have been a Browns fan for over 40 years, and I have never seen such upheaval, turmoil, and dysfunction on this team in all of those years. Haslam is a first time owner and I understand that there maybe a learning curve but this is just another example of how he has no clue what the hell he is doing. I’m not saying that Lombardi and Banner were the answer, nor am I saying that they didn’t deserve to be let go, but the more stuff like this happens the more I get the feeling that Jimmy is either clueless, desperate for a winning combination, or just wants to get it “right”. Since coming back to the NFL in 1999 the Browns have had 20 starting QB’s and 8 Head Coaches, and that’s in just 14 years, so turnover in Cleveland is the norm, and not the exception. It is frustrating as a fan, and certainly I hope they get it right, but I am not holding out hope. With off field issues regarding an FBI investigation of his Flying J convenience stores looming, jimmy needs to get it right, needs to let the football guys worry about football, so he can focus on the litigation. I honestly don’t know what the future holds for this team, but one thing is for sure, I will still root for them, cheer them on, and hope that they can turn it around. It has been 50 years since the Browns had a NFL championship, 12 years since they were in the playoffs, and the city is starved for a winner.