Evan Mathis on Michael Sam: NFL needed it to happen

Evan Mathis on Michael Sam: NFL needed it to happen

Villanova's Jay Wright on coaching an openly gay player

February 10, 2014, 7:45 pm
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Evan Mathis (left) said of Michael Sam: "If a team takes him off the draft board because of his sexuality, they never deserved a shot at him in the first place." (USA Today Images, AP)

Earlier in the day, CSN's Derrick Gunn texted with several Eagles, past and present, to gauge their opinions on NFL prospect Michael Sam's coming out as gay.

The consensus among Eagles is in support of Sam, the Missouri defensive lineman who led the SEC in sacks this past season. First lady Michelle Obama also commended Sam on Monday (see story). Monday evening, Eagles All-Pro left guard Evan Mathis, a deep thinker always armed with a good quote, sent his thoughts on Sam to Gunn via e-mail.

"I think it was a good idea for him to come out now and not during the season," Mathis wrote. "If there's going to be any distraction, he's minimizing it by getting this information out there now and taking on the media storm head-on.

"If a team is scared to draft him because he's gay, I think they are overestimating the problem or distraction it would cause. The 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year has the confidence and the bravery to come out publicly two months before the NFL draft. If a team takes him off the draft board because of his sexuality, they never deserved a shot at him in the first place. All that matters to me is if the guy can play football or not."

Sam can definitely play. He led the SEC in sacks with 11 1/2 and in tackles for loss with 19. He also scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery and forced two fumbles.

Mathis compared Sam to a hero from another sport.

"NFL players shouldn't judge Michael Sam based on his sexuality, but some guys will," Mathis said. "MLB players shouldn't have judged Jackie Robinson based on his skin color, but some did. Whether or not the NFL is ready for it, it needs to happen. There are still people on this earth who lived through the prohibition of alcohol and the Civil Rights Movement. They can look back and reflect on how primitive those times were. Current generations will look back at marijuana prohibition and gays having to fight for equal rights and think how primitive those times were."