On Sunday, Michael Sam made headlines around the country when he came out as gay. If drafted, as projected, he will be the first openly gay player in the NFL.
While some people reacted poorly to the news, Sam has racked up plenty of support in the football world. See who's standing with Sam below.
Dick Cass, Baltimore Ravens president
“We’re all about winning. If he’s a good football player who can help us win games, he will be welcomed here," he said. “I’m disappointed it is such a big issue in 2014."
John Elway, Denver Broncos executive
"I applaud Michael Sam and wish him the very best as he continues the pursuit of his NFL dream," he told 7SPORTS. "We will evaluate Michael just like any other draft prospect -- on the basis of his ability, character and NFL potential. His announcement will have no effect on how we see him as a football player."
John Mara and Steve Tisch, New York Giants co-owners
"Our sport, our game, is the ultimate meritocracy. You earn your way with your ability. As Patrick Burke and Wade Davis constantly remind all of us, regardless of who you are, what your background is and what your personal or sexual orientation is, if you can play, you can play. Michael's announcement will not affect his position on our draft board," said Mara.
"Michael Sam is a gifted athlete and a courageous man," Tisch said. "I hope any NFL team would not hesitate to draft Michael if he is right for their team. Our game is the ultimate team game, and we often talk about how a team is a family. Regardless of where you are from, what your religious beliefs are, what your sexual orientation is, if you are good enough to be on the team, you are part of the family."
Robert Kraft, Patriots owner
“We’re about winning,” Kraft told the Boston Herald. “And anyone who can come in here and help us win, I personally don’t care what their ethnic background is, their racial background, the gender preference. If they can help us win, and they’re about team first, then I’m happy to have him here... I think it’s good for America."
Bill Belichick, Patriots coach
“We evaluate all the players, including Michael Sam, based on the totality of who they are and who can best contribute to our team and organization, regardless of the matters being discussed today. They all have strengths, they all have weaknesses and no two human beings are identical," he said in a statement given to the Boston Globe. “Our scouting staff has performed extensive work on Michael, both this season and going back throughout his career. That work will continue through the draft process this spring.”
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers coach
“I think you definitely have to feel he’s a courageous young man but my understanding is he’s a talented young player,” McCarthy said. “Any player who can come here and be a good teammate and follow the rules of our program, which is one be respectful and produce on the football field, we have room for that guy.”
Doug Williams, Washington Redskins personnel executive
“I think we’ve got to take our hats off to the young guy because No. 1, he did something that takes a lot of courage,” Williams told the Washington Post. "I think eventually, we have to get to that point when we talk about people’s sexuality and get to that point where you say, ‘Hey, that’s their preference, but if he’s a good football player, and if he can help us win, he can be on my team.’”
Bill Polian, Former Buffalo Bills general manager
"If you can help the team win, you'll be welcomed as a teammate. Obviously, there'll be some public hurdles to cross. I think that'll be the most difficult part because this will be a media event of great magnitude. So the club is going to have to prepare for that and help the players as well as Mr. Sam get through that. But as a football player you'll be treated just that way, as a football player."
Thomas Dimitroff , Falcons general manager
"We recognize and appreciate the courage that Michael Sam demonstrated with his recent announcement," Dimitroff said in a statement. "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."
Phil Emery, Chicago Bears general manager
"Michael stated with great poise and confidence who he is as a person and football player and I have tremendous respect for him in the way he conveyed his thoughts and the courage it took to state them publicly," Emery said in a statement. "Each and every player in the NFL is a unique individual, as we all are in life. We all ultimately gain respect in our jobs by how well we perform at our chosen profession and if the level in which we perform adds positively to the collective goal of success."
Tom Lewand, Detroit Lions president
“As an organization and football team, the Detroit Lions place the highest priority on inclusiveness and diversity,” Lewand said in an email to the Detroit Free Press. “We applaud Michael Sam for his courage and proactive approach, and we will evaluate him, like every player, based solely on his ability to help the Lions win football games.”
Zygi Wilf, Minnesota Vikings owner
"We commend Michael Sam for being very courageous with his openness on something of such a personal nature. His comments will have no impact on how the Vikings view Michael as a football player or as a person," he said in a statement. "If a player can help us win, we will warmly welcome him as part of the team and provide an accepting, respectful and supportive environment to help him succeed in the NFL."
Jimmy Haslam, Cleveland Browns owner
"Absolutely we would welcome Michael Sam to the Cleveland Browns organization if he can help us win games and he's the right football player for this team,'' Haslam said in a statement provided by the Browns. "We are intent on creating an environment that is supportive, accepting and respectful of individual rights and differences."
Trent Baalke, San Francisco 49ers' general manager
"The 49ers commend Michael for the courage he has displayed, as he continues to pursue his NFL career,” Baalke said in a statement provided to ESPN. "We have and will continue to evaluate him as we do every draft eligible player, which is always based on their projected contributions to our team on and off the field.”
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