Michael Sam's NFL snub is at historic level
Every big-time conference Defensive Player of the Year drafted since 2000 – from the ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, Pac-12 and SEC – has made an active NFL roster his rookie season ... until Michael Sam came out as gay.
Last week I posted an article about how the historic nature of Michael Sam being off of an NFL roster at this point in the season. Of the 69 Defensive Players of the Year of the big five conferences drafted since 2000...he's the only one.
It's been great to hear rumblings over the last week that some teams are interested in him. I reported that last week as part of my larger story.
Yet a bunch of Michael Sam haters have sent me nasty emails about that article. Some of them were just filth, calling me - and gay people in general - every name you can think of. Others tried explaining that Sam isn't that good and he only came out publicly anyway because "you gay people" told him to (not even close to being true).
So I set out to see how Sam compares with other players who have performed similarly in the NFL preseason.
Of the 20 defensive ends with one or more sacks and eight or more tackles this preseason, 80% of them are currently on an active roster; Another 10% are on a practice squad; Only Sam and former Saint-Raider-Cowboy Martez Wilson (who has had opportunities to shine for three seasons) are not currently with a team.
Mind you, that's comparing everyone in the preseason who had three fewer tackles and 1.5 (or two, depending on whom you ask) fewer sacks than Sam. I wanted a big sample to include players who had performed statistically worse than Sam.
No one with Sam's stats is out of the NFL right now.
"Well," the argument will go, "that isn't against real competition. He still hasn't proven himself against good players in a regular-season game."
That's kind of the whole point: He hasn't been given the opportunity to prove himself at the highest level. But let's ignore the fallacy of that argument and take a look at reality - other guys who are looking for their first chance in the league.
Of the 31 rookies since 2010 with two or more sacks and 10 or more tackles in the preseason (again, Sam exceeded those numbers in both categories), Sam is one of only three to not make at least a season-long practice squad. Frank Trotter out of Memphis is the only other defensive end in this category; He now plays Arena Football.
So Sam is in a minority of 2% (drafted DPOYs), 4% (total DPOYs), 10% (DEs with solid preseason stats) and 11% (rookies with solid preseason stats) to not make an NFL team. That's quite a list of coincidences.
Sadly it's becoming more and more clear that the most important minority he is a part of is a minority of one: The only gay man in the NFL courageous enough to come out publicly.