St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, as well as team captain linebacker James Laurinaitis, told the media on Thursday that they would have no problem with openly gay defensive lineman Michael Sam on the Rams.
On another topic, Fisher and LB James Laurinaitis both say they'd have no problem with Michael Sam on the Rams. Story to come on that.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) February 13, 2014
Fisher has never been one to shy away from players who may bring so-called "distractions" away from the field. In the past, that's mostly been limited to players with suspensions, failed drug tests, or arrests, the kind of stuff that's not exactly rare in the NFL, but can still impact a player's draft stock.
In the wake of Sam's coming out on Sunday, Sports Illustrated and its prestige brand site Peter King's The MMQB opened the doors (and subsequently provided cover to) a wave anonymous personnel executives expressing their 1950s views about sacrosanct locker rooms, the man's man's world and the other stuff. That's just fine for Fisher.
The Rams scored a coup in the 2012 NFL Draft when they were able to grab Janoris Jenkins in the second round. Jenkins had been undervalued by those teams cautious of distractions over winning after being kicked out of Florida for a drug incidents and the revelation that spring about his prolific procreation.
Besides, those anonymous execs' view of the locker room doesn't line up with reality. Players rushed to show their support for Sam after his decision to come out. Age is another factor; most players are in their 20s and have grown up in a more accepting culture than the execs.
Oh, and there's also the little matter of how well a guy can play football. Sam was the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year. He's something of a tweener -- somewhere between a DE and an OLB -- in the NFL, but his speed is the kind of thing that makes him an intriguing pass rusher.
But we know all this already. It's refreshing to see Fisher and Laurinaitis able to accept a player for who he is and what he can contribute to the team.