Around 60 percent of the NFL is African-American, a segment that trails only white evangelicals in negative attitudes toward homosexuality in the U.S. While campaigns to alter the perception of gays in the black community have been somewhat successful, there’s still a long way to go. Sam has put himself on the front line, where he’ll have to crack generations of instilled disapproval.
Sam has proven that can be done, because he came out to his Missouri teammates last year. Not only did the team have his back by not having a single player go public with the information, but the Tigers put up one of the best seasons in school history with Sam as a leader.
It’ll be interesting to see what team Sam lands with, because all are not on equal footing in terms of intellectualism or general intelligence. It’s possible he’ll end up with an organization that’ll foster a positive environment to help further rights for gay Americans. Or, he could end up with a bunch of knuckleheads.
Sam won’t get the death threats Robinson got when he joined the Dodgers in 1947, but I have no doubt he’ll hear plenty of derogatory terms when on the road. The NFL isn’t Hollywood, and its drunken fans aren’t Broadway attendees.
Being a pioneer has its disadvantages, but like Robinson, Sam is equipped to handle it. He saw one brother die after being shot. Two other brothers are in prison, and another hasn’t been seen in more than 15 years. He once lived in his mom’s car.
The NFL isn’t going to be any tougher than that.
— Brent Glasgow is a sports writer for the Westside Flyer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 272-5800 ext. 190. Follow him or Twitter @BGlasgow37.