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The Michael Sam Issue: Would You Want Him on Your Football Team?

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(May 15, 2014 - Source: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America)
(May 15, 2014 – Source: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images North America)

31 teams didn’t draft him. All 32 teams passed on him for at least six rounds before the St. Louis Rams took a flyer on the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Michael Sam.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece giving him a fourth-round draft grade. Because of various athletic defaults and one open statement he made, he fell to the seventh round.

The Rams took a chance, but would you? Would you even want this young man on your football team? He loves the game, he works hard, he’s a good moral man from what’s been reported; he tearfully accepted the Arthur Ashe ESPY award for courage just this past week.

Why wouldn’t you want him on your football team?

There’s only one reason and we all know what it is; I don’t have to say it. So, would you want to throw him away because of that one reason? Is that one reason solely enough to deny this man a dream?

Maybe or maybe not for us individually, but if you were a general manager, the guy who builds the football team, what would you have to think? Well, take out a deck of cards and count them. There should be 52 of them and each one is a teammate of Michael Sam’s.

The King of Spades is indifferent. He just wants to play football, get his paycheck, work for a Super Bowl ring, and then go home to his family. He may be religious, but hey, who is he to judge right? Luke 6: 37 says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” So, he does not judge.

The cards that follow him have same idea; with or without religious points. GM-you will not have issues with these cards.

The King of Hearts is open to welcoming Michael Sam into his heart. Who cares who he loves? The heart wants what it wants right? You will have no problem with him or any of the cards who want to follow his lead.

Heck, a lot of those cards probably have similar relatives and friends who have made them sympathetic to the reason.

The King of Diamonds is the opposite. ‘How dare this vile creature come even near me?’ he thinks. He recites to himself Leviticus 22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” He is full of hatred and disgust. Maybe he should do something about this Michael Sam? Maybe the hedonistic sinner deserves a lesson or two from him?

Other cards will not have his aggressive wish, but they are still going to be against Michael Sam. They will not welcome his with open arms. You will have severe issues with these cards and who knows if these personal feelings will affect the way the team operates on the field?

It would be ignorant to think that’s impossible and your primary job first and foremost is to build a winning team.

Lastly, there is the King of Clubs. He is full of ambivalence. He has no religious objections nor does he have a qualm when it comes to human liberty and rights. But, it isn’t comfortable. It’s…nasty to him. It’s unnatural to say the absolute least and no one can dispute that.

There’s a difference between being okay with something in principle and having to deal with it when it’s right next to you.

Doesn’t a man have the right to feel comfortable in a setting where he will spend more time in than his own home? Other cards agree with him and shouldn’t you, the GM, respect these hardworking cards who only want what everyone wants, which is comfort?

These cards will be an issue. Maybe a silent issue because discomfort isn’t always outspoken, but an issue nonetheless.

As you listen to the cards, you will have the GM thought process go through your head. You know that football is an American sport which means it’s founded in a land dedicated to the separation of church and state, freedom, and equality.

So maybe you decide that things are more important than football and forget it if this decision hurts the team. Maybe you can convince yourself, you can handle the angry cards that will react.

But do you really want to take that chance? Maybe you think your franchise may not win a Super Bowl possibly, but you’ll be remembered as a difference maker, so who cares? Great thought, but ask your owner and fans if that’s what they want. Isn’t it your job to serve them?

You might take a standpoint against Sam. You might find him repugnant and don’t care that you’ll crush a young man’s dream. It doesn’t affect you does it? Well, does it?

However, there is a chance that you’re a neutral business person and you make this a business decision. You merely wonder if Sam can fit with the team and help them become better while outweighing the potential ill side effects.

Sam isn’t a first-round talent. He’s a special teams pass-rusher. Those are easily replaceable. If Sam was Jadevon Clowney or Khalil Mack; a player with elite game-changing potential then maybe the positives outweigh the negatives?

Maybe, but he isn’t that. He isn’t a Jackie Robinson talent.

So maybe you don’t do anything. Maybe you just think football and football alone. Sam isn’t one-of-a-kind, so you’ll just find another guy like him who doesn’t have the razor’s edge reason and your deck of cards won’t be bothered with the issue. You can’t be expected to be able to change the minds of any players who are against his reason from a biological, religious, moral and/or social standpoint?

No one can force anyone to think anything and how can you do your job and help your team if the players may end up feuding with each other over Sam himself?

You justify it by saying Michael Sam is a victim of his time’s attitudes and there’s nothing you can do about it.  That seems to be the prevailing opinion amongst real-life GMs.

But what would you do?

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

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