I’ve always been a big fan of Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, but his recent comments about Michael Sam made me like him even more.
Specifically, Dimitroff was asked about the likelihood of the Falcons drafting Sam in the wake of Sam’s big announcement that he is openly gay, and will be the first active player in pro football history to be openly homosexual while under contract. After Sam made his story public on Sunday night, several NFL GMs anonymously said they were worried his sexuality would provide a distraction in their locker room, and therefore had doubts about drafting him.
Dimitroff refused to hide behind the protective curtain known as “unnamed sources” and came right out and told the world what he thought about Sam.
“We recognize and appreciate the courage that Michael Sam demonstrated with his recent announcement,” Dimitroff said in a statement posted to ESPN.com. “The NFL has always valued inclusion and diversity. As a team-builder, our job is to judge players on their talent, character and potential. His announcement will have no bearing on how we evaluate him as a football player.”
It’s nice to see at least one NFL general manager have the guts to go on the record and state how he feels about this kid, especially in the wake of countless GMs opening their doors to dog killers, drunk drivers and woman-beaters but suddenly drawing the line at a well-spoken, hard-working gay man.
No, Sam probably won’t shred your locker room if countless felons couldn’t do it.
From a football standpoint, the Falcons need all the defensive help they can get. If there’s a chance for them to pick up Sam, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, at the right time in the draft, I hope they do. He had no problem getting to quarterbacks in college, and this defense needs a few guys like that.
But even if he doesn’t wear red and black as a pro, I’m happy knowing my team’s front office don’t have a little personal bias against gays that would get in the way of improving on an awful 4-12 record in 2013.