NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Michael Sam made history on Sunday when he publicly came out, becoming the first openly-gay player to enter the NFL Draft.
Sam, an All-American defensive end who played his college ball at Missouri, has received an incredible amount of support from players, owners, media members and the general public. But, naturally, not everyone is on board with his sexual preference.
Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas, for one, had some interesting things to say about Sam upon hearing the news that he’s gay.
“I don’t believe in it, I don’t respect it, but if that’s what you want to do, so be it,” Thomas told the New York Post. “I can’t speak for the NFL or our team or the locker room. I just know what goes on and what type of situation it’s going to put a lot of guys in.”
After Sam made his announcement, Giants co-owner applauded the 24-year-old for his decision, saying, “I hope any NFL team would not hesitate to draft Michael if he is right for their team.”
But Thomas believes that wherever Sam ends up, he’ll have a problem in the locker room.
“I think the biggest thing is going to be in the locker room,” Thomas told the newspaper. “Not on the football field, not on the practice field, but in the locker room; where guys are walking around naked, guys are joking, the way coaches talk, the way players talk. You have to be careful what you say because you don’t want to offend anybody.”
Sam is projected to be a mid- to late-round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.
“When you look at the Miami Dolphins situation (between Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito) that happened last year, nobody wants that in their locker room,” Thomas told the New York Post. “That’s coming and that’s the unfortunate thing, more than anything, because now it’s about him or his beliefs and not about football.
“The biggest thing is the media, hearing that a bunch of 18 and 20 year olds can accept him, why can’t a bunch of grown men in an NFL locker room? To be honest with you, the culture’s different. It is a brotherhood unlike no other.”
The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder came out to his teammates before his senior season, and Jets star Sheldon Richardson said that he knew Sam was gay when the two were roommates. Richardson, however, maintained that him being homosexual was in no way an issue for the team.
“It changes things around the locker room,” the Giant told the newspaper. “How you can act, how you can talk. Unwanted attention to your organization, unwanted questions that you have to answer. It puts a lot of pressure on certain people who don’t want to be in that position. Some team will have to hire a company to educate us and make sure we’re saying the right thing.
“All the extra stuff you have to go through, all the extra meetings, that’s something as veteran players we don’t want.”
As far as Thomas is concerned, it all comes down to reaching a certain comfort level.
“As a ballplayer, if he can play ball that’s all that matters,” Thomas said. “I’m sure he won’t be the first gay guy to play in the NFL, but he’s the first openly one out — nobody knows him and I think more than anything it’s going to make the locker room uncomfortable. It’s not easy for society to get that, they won’t understand how tight-knit of a group we are and how we joke about each other.
“We joke about each other’s family members. You have to, because when you’re going to war, you’re going to battle, you have to believe in that person — you have to love that person like a brother. I’m not saying nobody will do the same with Michael, but it’s tough when you just are put in this position.”
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