If the Goodell family has anything to do with it, Michael Sam would be welcome in the NFL next fall.
The time for acceptance has arrived, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said Wednesday night, and Sam would be the NFL’s first openly gay player.
“Good for him,” Goodell said (via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello on Twitter). “He’s proud of who he is and had the courage to say it. Now he wants to play football. We have a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. We will have further training and make sure that everyone understands our commitment. We truly believe in diversity and this is an opportunity to demonstrate it.”
Goodell made the remarks, his first since Sam told ESPN on Sunday night that he is gay, at the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition Wall Street Project in New York.
Michael Goodell, the commissioner’s openly gay brother, echoed that, although he said he hasn’t spoken to his brother about the matter. “Roger is fine with this. He’s a good businessman and he’s been around this issue his whole life,” Michael Goodell said (via TMZ.com). “I’ve met a lot of the NFL owners through my brother. They’re businessmen, not homophobes.”
He went on to say that, because of Sam, homosexuality in the NFL “won’t be an issue in 10-to-20 years.”
Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year, was projected as a third- or fourth-round pick before his announcement. He’ll participate in the NFL scouting combine later this month.