Dear Roger Goodell,
Courage is defined as the ability to do something that frightens one. You have a lot of courageous people in the NFL. In fact, the NFL is based on courage. The courage to throw the ball when you should run. The courage to go for a first down when you should punt. Those are courageous acts on the field.
You also have a very courageous person coming into the NFL.
This letter is not about your religious beliefs. This letter is not about what your opinion is on the matter. That is none of my business. It does not matter. What matters is the respect for all human beings in this world. As you know, Michael Sam came out to the world this month. He went on ESPN and told the world he was gay. You have had gay NFL players before. None have admitted it while playing the game. You still do not have any openly gay NFL players. Just one that is trying to get in.
Once he told the world he was gay there was a lot of support. There was also a lot of backlash. Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year, came off of a monster season. He recorded 11.5 sacks. In arguably the most dominant conference in college football. And everyone is all over the board on where he will be drafted. Some say the third round. Most say fifth to seventh round. There are also those who say he will not be drafted at all. Of course, this is all before the NFL combine.
With that being said, I am asking you consider taking Michael Sam out of the NFL Draft this year.
Why should he be subjected to go to a team that does not want him? A team that wants to use him for publicity. Why should he go to a team that is “not ready for a gay NFL player” which has been said numerous times?
Once you are drafted after the second round it seems like the contracts are crafted towards performance. Michael Sam knows he will have to perform. All NFL hopefuls know this. He will have to sign a four-year contract if he is drafted. If he is not, he will sign a three-year contract. Then he can choose where HE wants to go. He can go to teams and see if they are the right fit for him, not if he is the right fit for them. Then he might not be drafted by the anonymous GM who is not ready for gays in the NFL. He will not be drafted into a poor coaching situation or a locker room full of bullies.
Am I being ridiculous?
In some ways yes.
But is it any more ridiculous than predicting Michael Sam’s draft stock based on his sexuality? Or teams who are anonymous and do not want to draft him because of the person he is. He should only be judged by talent. Right now he is judged by much more.
See, when people talk about the NFL they talk about concussions, PED’s, and money. I look at the NFL as a place where you made it cool for kids to wear pink in support of breast cancer. I look at the NFL as a place where my son and I can bond every Sunday. It is life and life is changing. You hear all the time we are not ready for a gay player. Maybe in five years…or ten…or fifteen…
A lot has been said and honestly I am not going to debate your political and social views. I refuse to do that with anyone. I cannot change the way people feel. I know what Michael Sam did was groundbreaking. For those who say, “Why is this a story?” I am well aware that the question asked is the reason why.
I also refuse to compare or debate why he should be in the NFL. I refuse to handpick stories of bullying, murder/suicide, sexual assault and abuse and say, “Well, if they are in the NFL why can’t Michael Sam be in the NFL?” That is incredibly unfair to your future NFL player.
Quite honestly, I do not expect you to read this letter. It is ridiculous to think Michael Sam will be pulled out of the draft. He will go to the NFL Combine and he will be ranked. He will be drafted and I hope that he is drafted by a team that will not make a media circus out of him. I hope he is drafted by a team that will respect him like he will respect them.
Because soon you will have a good “openly gay” player in the NFL.
I cannot wait for the day where he is a great player and “openly gay” does not describe him. Just a great player.
He just paved the way for that.