Since Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam announced that he was gay, it has become the hot sports topic across the country. Opinions have varied.
Eagles offensive lineman Evan Mathis made some important points via e-mail (see story). A number of other Eagles I talked to by way of texts said they wanted a little more time to think about it before they responded, while a few other current and former players offered well-thought-out insights.
Offensive lineman Todd Herremans:
"It’s not shocking. I knew it was a matter of time. I am sure that there would be some guys that would be uneasy with it, but I don’t think it would be a confrontational situation. They would just mind their own business. I know the majority of players will have no issues with it, and I think it’s just a matter of time until more players make it public. But for others it will take time and you can’t expect people to change their feelings or stance on certain subjects overnight, if at all.”
Linebacker Brandon Graham:
“We should keep everything professional, and what you do at home should not stop you from your team's common goal, and that’s to win the franchise a championship. I feel if he sells out for the team, you couldn’t ask for more. He will definitely get talked about, but that’s the nature of our locker rooms. As long as they do not take it farther than need be, he will be accepted."
Former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese:
“I don’t know if owners and GMs are ready to deal with it, and is his talent worth it.”
Former Eagles defensive end Hugh Douglas:
"Players will try to get inside his head, and you have to wonder how sensitive will he be."
Former Eagles center Jamaal Jackson:
“Really it's not a big deal to me. I have a gay uncle and our relationship hasn’t changed. They let women reporters in the locker room full of naked men and that weathered the storm and so will this. You generally don’t hang out with everyone on a team anyway."
The bottom line is, we live in an ever-changing society, and we all felt and knew that someday the moment would come when gay players would be brave enough to step forward and not hide in the shawdows anymore. Michael Sam has taken a major initial step for other athletes and, more importantly, other NFL players to not be afraid to speak out. Now we have to accept it, and league owners and general managers must deal with it."