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The Boston Globe

Opinion

JOSHUA GREEN

Michael Sam is on his own

After coming out, Michael Sam has gotten lots of praise, but still has little protection from discrimination

WHEN UNIVERSITY of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced on Sunday that he is gay, the reaction was instantaneous and almost universally positive. Several of Sam’s teammates tweeted their support. So did his school. A number of NFL players did, too, including Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. The head of the NFL Players Association predicted Sam would be accepted “with open arms.” If drafted, he’ll be the first openly gay player in NFL history. Even Michelle Obama offered encouragement. “You’re an inspiration to all of us,” she tweeted. “We couldn’t be prouder of your courage both on and off the field.”

There was one glaring exception: Sam’s potential future employers. As the Southeastern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year last year, Sam is regarded by draft experts as anywhere from a third-round to a sixth-round pick in May’s NFL draft. But an article in Sports Illustrated Sunday was riddled with anonymous quotes from NFL coaches, scouts, and general managers all but promising that teams will discriminate against Sam because of his sexual orientation. “It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room,” said one executive. “This is going to drop him down [in the draft],” said another. “If you knowingly bring someone in there with that sexual orientation,” complained one coach, “how are the other guys going to deal with it?”

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