Maybe you don’t follow sports or the NFL too closely, but over the weekend, history was made. More importantly, a milestone was passed when it comes to the acceptance of gay athletes in the United States’ most popular sport.
The talented football player, who had a successful career with the University of Missouri as a defensive lineman, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams. The reactions of his family and significant other were televised to the entire country. It quickly went viral on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms.
For a number of reasons, there are very few NFL players or staff who come out or say much at all about gay athletes. With Michael Smith, perhaps the NFL will become a more open and vocal supporter of similar athletes that are currently playing in the NFL.
At the San Jose Mercury News, Mark Purdy wrote a great reaction piece to the events that occurred on Sunday on ESPN. He pulled some quotes and said some quote-worthy remarks himself about the significance of this year’s NFL draft. Here are some of the best ones:
Trent Baalke, one of the NFL’s general managers said: “I’m very happy for him. He’s a good football player. I wish he hadn’t gone to the Rams because we now have to play against him twice a year.”
Michael Sam himself on what was truly important to him: “It’s about playing football. Can I play football? Yes, I can.”
Head coach of the 49ers, Jim Harbaugh, on Sam’s reaction: “I can picture it. It was very emotional—it’s great that you have those moments that can be captured.”
Lastly, Mark Purdy on why the event stood out: “The moment stood out, however, because it seemed so organic and unaffected. That’s really rare in the orchestrated world of event television these days, even in the supposedly ‘spontaneous’ realm of reality television.”