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May 11, 2014 9:55 AM Michael Sam Breaks the Gay Barrier in the NFL

By Martin Longman

Michael Sam was the co-Defensive Player of the Year of the Southeastern Conference of the NCAA. He played defensive end for the University of Missouri. Despite that, he lacked the ideal height to play defensive end in the National Football League and the speed to play linebacker. He’s strong, but he did not perform well at the NFL combine where players are asked to go through various drills to measure their strength, speed, and flexibility. As a result, his stock in the NFL Draft dropped.

But what really alarmed NFL scouts is that Michael Sam came out as an openly gay man. There have been gay players in the NFL, but no one has ever openly admitted that they were gay before Sam. He wound up getting selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 34th pick of the seventh and final round of the draft. Only seven players were drafted after him.

It’s nice that he will have the opportunity to make the roster of a team from the same state where he starred as a collegiate athlete, but few think he would have been drafted so low if he hadn’t admitted to being gay.

Martin Longman is the Web Editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune. He has worked as a community organizer for ACORN/Project Vote and as a political consultant for Democracy for America.

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