Raleigh, N.C. — Make no mistake, Michael Sam is not the first gay player in the NFL. He has an opportunity to make the St. Louis Rams roster and become the first openly gay player, but there are players in every league in multiple locker rooms that are gay.
A seventh-round draft pick, Sam made his sexuality known before the NFL Draft and created a media buzz, even making the cover of Sports Illustrated. But the only question players and coaches around the league care about is, ‘Can he play?’
NFL locker rooms have operated under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for a long, long time. What every coach has to do is set a list of ground rules. I used to address certain things every year.
I made it known, politics and religion would not be discussed in a locker room. This is about football and we are here to be a team. It is impossible to get 53 guys to agree on politics and religion so we will leave those discussions at the door.
Simply put, we don’t care about your personal life. If you can sack the quarterback and make plays, nobody cares. If you can’t you won’t have a job in a week.
Did Johnny Manziel really “fall?”
When it is all said and done, only 32 players are first-round draft picks. Only three of those this year were quarterbacks. The Cleveland Browns gambled and took a cornerback, Justin Gilbert, early. They won the gamble when Dallas passed on Manziel at pick No. 16 and he was sitting there for the Browns at No. 22.
I give credit to the Browns for what they were able to do in the early rounds of the draft and I am encouraged at the possibilities with Manziel running the offense in the future.
What comes with Manziel is a demand to be on the field. Whether he is the best quarterback on the roster come Week 1 or not, his contract and his profile will ensure he is on the field. He will be forced to be the face of the franchise – which is okay – but he needs to grow with the league and the responsibilities that come along with that.
Panthers Skip on OT
The “experts” identified the offensive line as a need for the Carolina Panthers heading into the NFL Draft. Fans read that and were up in arms when the Panthers walked out of the draft without a tackle.
Here’s what the Panthers were thinking:
If we don’t take a tackle, that we know is not up to par and not worth it, we will have an issue for one year. If we do take one that is over-priced and under-performing, we will have an issue for many years.
The point is not to worry about what you didn’t get. Focus on what you did get. Teams need to be smart about who they do have and don’t get caught up in a guy that can’t play just because it’s a “need.”
Carolina did get a guard, Trai Turner, in the third round. Before that, the best players on the board that could help the team were Kelvin Benjamin and Kony Ealy. Make no mistake, the WR and DE were also needs.
Of the undrafted players that the Panthers will work out, no fewer than three will be offensive lineman including Miami’s Jared Wheeler and Ohio State’s Andrew Norwell.