WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- After numerous anonymous NFL general managers reportedly indicated that Michael Sam coming out as gay negatively affected his status, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith called the unnamed GMs "gutless."
“When you contrast a group of anonymous GMs against a 24-year-old college player, it seems like only one of them had the guts to put his name behind his message,” Smith said during an interview with CSN Washington. “So my first reaction has nothing to do with Michael Sam. My reaction is to call those GMs for what they are -- they're gutless.”
If Sam enters the NFL, he will become the league’s first openly-gay player. He led the SEC with 11.5 sacks last season and helped Missouri reach the SEC championship game.
"If a young man has the courage to stand up and put his name and his face to talk about what he thinks is important, I would expect that a grown man can do exactly the same thing. But apparently they can't,” Smith said.
One general manager went so far as to say that Sam wouldn’t be drafted because of his sexual orientation.
"All I can hope is that that's not the case," Smith said.
"This is a rare, select group of athletes who can perform and play at the highest of levels. And I think that any team or general manager that would be short-sighted enough to not have one of the best players on their team because of some personal bias is not only short-changing the teammates on that team but giving into the dark, horrible prejudices that we all expect that people no longer have.”
NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth told ESPN that NFL players will accept Sam with "open arms." Sam is projected to taken as high as the third round in the NFL draft.
"I just want to go to the team who drafts me," Sam said. "Because that team knows about me, knows that I'm gay, and also knows that I work hard. That's the team I want to go to."
[CSN Washington] [ESPN]