If Michael Sam handles blockers the way he handled the media at the NFL Combine today in Indianapolis, he has a bright playing future ahead of him. Sam, who came out publicly as gay two weeks ago, gave a press conference at the Combine and said all the right things and was never rattled. He smiled throughout and showed a ton of poise. He said his focus is football and being drafted, not being an activist.
"Oh, heck yeah, I wish you guys were just saying, 'Hey, Michael Sam, how's football going? How's training going?' I would love if you'd ask me that question," he said. "I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam, the football player, rather than Michael Sam, the gay football player ... I just wanna do what I love to do and that's play football."
Most of the questions directed at Sam focused on his decision to come out publicly three months before the NFL Draft. If selected and he makes a roster, Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL. After a series of questions about his coming out, Sam visibly brightened when a reporter said he had a football question.
"I’m a pass-rusher," he said. "If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I’m going to get the quarterback." Sam is 6-3 and weighs 260 pounds and teams are trying to figure out where he would fit in their defense, as a lineman or a linebacker. "I am not a G.M. and I do not control my draft status," he said. "All I can control is me preparing myself so I can get the best scores out there."
All the questions teams have asked him have centered around football, Sam said.That's understandable since the NFL had admonished teams to not ask inappropriate personal questions of prospective draftees, still embarrassed by last year when a player was asked if he likes girls. In Sam's case, they needn't wonder.
When he was asked by a reporter how he would respond to a player hurling a gay slur at him, Sam said: "If someone wants to call me a name, I'll have a conversation with that guy and hopefully it won't lead to nothing else."
Sam kept stressing that his job in the next three months is to get ready to be drafted and play football. "Do I feel like a trailblazer? I feel like I'm Michael Sam."