Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL before being cut twice, believes he isn't on any team because of his sexual orientation, and NOT because he isn't talented enough.
The 24-year-old defensive end made the revelation in a quick word with a TMZ reporter at LAX. When asked if he thinks his career hasn't taken off due to his homosexuality or his playing ability, he not only leaned toward bigotry, but also pointed at his successful collegiate career to suggest that it could not have been about talent.
"I think I was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year last year ... so I don't think it had to do with talent," Sam said.
It's interesting that while he thinks his football career has suffered due to his alternative lifestyle, his critics feel he had always benefited from it. Since coming out last year to his teammates, he became the face of homosexuality in sports and received widespread acclaim for his decision. When he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, he received congratulatory messages from a number of big name personalities, including President Barack Obama.
He has made magazine covers and last month was featured on one of six covers for the prestigious GQ Magazine's Men of the Year edition. No other seventh-rounder in the history of the game had received the level of media coverage that Sam did. But then it's not media whom Sam is accusing of homophobia here. He is implying that NFL teams are discriminating against him.
He points to his SEC Defensive Player of the Year title to claim that he has what it takes to make it in the NFL. What he totally ignores is that at 6'2, he doesn't have the size to play as a defensive end. His lack of speed means he couldn't adapt to the outside linebacker position either. What options does he leave for an NFL team then?
Moreover, there is an entire brigade of former footballers who were great in college but tanked badly in the pros. The NFL is a major jump in size, athleticism and skills. When will Sam realize that the pedigree of success prior to entering the big league means nothing?