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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Coming out before the draft pushed Michael Sam to early retirement

    On August 14th Michael Sam announced, via his Twitter page, that he was temporarily leaving the game of football, due to, in his words, “being concerned with [his] mental health.”

    Michael Sam is the first openly gay NFL player to have come out while still playing the game. There are those that came out after their career was over, such as Wade Davis, who played from 2000-2003 and came out in 2012, as well as Esera Tuaolo, who played from 1991-1999 and came out in 2002.

    Sam was first picked up in the 7th round by the St. Louis Rams, cut, added to the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys, was cut, then, shortly after, signed a two-year contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. After only three months with the Alouettes he announced his retirement.

    One has to wonder if his coming out announcement was the reason no team decided to sign him. Did his mental health issue stem from his experiences with these teams, players, or just professional football in general?

    Did all that push him to say enough is enough and call it quits? I know the NFL is a whole other level above the NCAA, however, Sam was an All-American and the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at the University of Missouri. I’m not sure if he was caliber status to be a starter in the NFL, but he would have been a decent backup, at least.

    It appears though that no team was willing to take that chance when so much money was involved.

    I’m not the only one that is questioning if his coming out was a reason he wasn’t signed.

    “I’m not buying the facts that he wasn’t good enough situationally, but when millions of dollars are on the line, it could be used as a legitimate reason, and yet with the other issue rolled into it, I’m skeptical,” Tucson city councilman of Ward 6 Steve Kozachik said.

    The U.S. has taken its time to simply let homosexuals marry. While it is fantastic that in June of this year the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide, it took way too long to happen. We still have people that are against it. The Kim Davis fiasco is a great example of anti-homosexuality. Despite a legal mandate requiring her to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Davis’ refusal shows the strength of such sentiments.

    “The NFL also has different mental macho community set of values,” said Councilman Kozachik. “It is certainly possible that these men just didn’t feel comfortable being in the clubhouse with Michael Sam… Every social rights issue has its Rosa Parks. There’s a trailblazer, who is first.”

    When somebody is first, and it’s something that the world isn’t accustomed to yet, it just takes a long time for it to become a part of our day-to-day community. The biggest question is, will other college players come out, or even consider it, before entering the NFL draft, after the way things with Michael Sam played out? 

    I personally think one day a player will come out again, much like Michael Sam, but that day won’t happen for a long time, mainly because of the challenges Sam experienced.

    Follow Daniel Geffre on Twitter.

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