Here’s Just One Example Of How Hard It Will Be For Michael Sam In The NFL

Edwards_Herm_croppedIt took a lot of courage for football player Michael Sam to come out, especially since he has the potential to be the first openly gay player in the NFL. The reaction to his coming out underscores just how big of a challenge he’s facing from leaders in the league.

The most outrageous reaction came from Herm Edwards, the former head coach for the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. In a bizarre and rambling interview on ESPN where he is a commentator, Edwards went the whole nine yards in terms of homophobic code language, talking about “off-the-field issues” and “bringing baggage into your locker room.” (It didn’t help that Edwards couldn’t get Sam’s last name right, either.)

“When you go into the draft, look at it this way,” Edwards began. “Let’s say Michael Sams [sic] is not a gay player, but he’s a player that has some issues, off the field issues. The thing you talk about in the organization with the GM and obviously the owner is, can we handle this guy? Can we handle the media that’s going to come along with his situations?”

Not content to leave bad enough alone, Edwards continued: “He’s bringing baggage into your locker room. So when you think about Michael Sams [sic], all the sudden, can the players handle the media attention they’re going to get when they get the question asked, ‘Are you OK with a gay teammate?’”

This is not entirely surprising coming from Edwards, who is famous for two things other than being fired from his last head coaching job. He was a leader in the right-wing Promise Keepers, an evangelical group that encourages men to take leadership from their wives in their own homes, and his bizarre “cupcheck” incident, in which he nailed fellow ESPN employees in the balls to see if the were wearing, well, protection.

Seems pretty clear that Edwards would not be. He’s not alone either. A number of more PR-savvy NFL figures have been providing anonymous (and offensive) comments to the media along the same lines.

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” an unnamed NFL player personnel assistant told Sports Illustrated. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

Note that SI took it upon itself to delete the slur in question. You can probably supply it on your own. That someone would think it’s okay to use it in a conversation with the media just shows what an uphill battle Sam is facing.

Photo credit: ESPN

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  • balehead

    It’s not baggage he’s bringing…it’s called “progress”…

  • mzvky

    I hate to jinx it but something tells me Michael will get picked up in the draft and he’ll have to start at the bottom and work his way up (sorry about all the double entendres, but I’m serious) and prove himself to be as gifted (sorry) in the NFL as in college. The real challenge will be the scrutiny brought to everything he does as the inevitable comparisons to (ostensibly) straight rookies will be made. It will be hard (sorry) for him in a lot of ways. But I think he’ll rise rise to the occasion (sorry) and triumph in the end (I give up).

  • Kieran

    It may be a very good thing to bring the NFL’s homophobia to the table and shine a spotlight on it so that it can be acknowledged and decisively addressed.

    The NFL must make it clear to every player that, as in the case of racism, it has a zero tolerance level for homophobia. Any homophobic speech and a player (or coach) can expect to get slapped with a heavy fine and or suspension.

  • sportyguy1983

    @mzvky If you knew anything about professional sports ALL new draftees start at the bottom and need to prove themselves as NFL caliber players. College success doesn’t always prove NFL success. There are countless number of examples of this. And there will be a media circus surrounding the team he is drafted by.

  • Zekester

    Hey Herm. Tell us how Jackie Robinson brought baggage and distraction into the locker room!

    And what’s this bullshit that Outsports keeps telling us that the NFL has pledged to wipe out homophobia from the league and homophobic language from the locker rooms.

    It’s very telling that the “problem” that some of these assholes see with a gay player is that he might make them uncomfortable using slurs in the locker room.

  • liandro

    Having heard him talk, and read more of his comments in other articles, I have no doubt that he knows what he’s in for, and that he can handle it with aplomb and grace, as he has so far. It’ll be a gas to watch the haters, bigots and fools come out of the closet and attack, as I think he and his supporters can and will give as good as he gets. This is, no pun intended (well, maybe a little) a game-changer.
    What a man!

  • aces1218

    I disagree with what he’s saying, but then again I tend to disagree with him often. I personally think that the NFL locker room will be more welcoming than a fan base. From what I’ve seen on Twitter, the players don’t care, they just want someone who will help them win games, same with the coaches who have commented. I saw someone on ProFootball Talk compare him to Tim Tebow. That to me was annoying.

  • michaelroy

    It always kills me when someone says, “this country isn’t ready for this, or “the NFL isn’t ready for this.” Yes we are. Change like this has to be thrusted upon us. Thinking it will just ease in like a well worn sock is asinine. When Barack Obama was almost certain to be president, people said this country’s not ready for a black president. The same with removing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” The same with “Marriage equality”. Change isn’t going to wait for old homophobes to be ready, it’s going to come in hard and fast. I think Sam will have some difficulty since he made the announcement prior to being picked and he was considered a 3rd day draft prior to the announcement. But a team will pick him up. He’ll be a trailblazer and his sexuality will be news for a hot minute and then it’ll fade away.

  • ho

    Man I for one am delighted to see Her Edwards make a total ass
    of himself in the national media no less. Real deep thinker that one.
    He just alienated half the viewing public and even more than half in the
    coveted 18-34 demographic. Yup, brilliant career move sparky. Way to go, ASSHOLE. Keep up the good work.

  • mzvky

    @Sportyguy1983: what makes you think I know nothing about professional sports? I resent your patronizing assertion. Thanks to my husband – and the fact that we live in Chicago – all sports have been a regular staple my entire life – most especially for the last ten years we’ve been together. I’ve got draft picks and the Cubs home opener already on my calendar. We’re not all into showtunes, you know. (Though battle lines do get drawn for the Tony Awards…)

  • startenout

    @Zekester: You took the words right out of my mouth. It appalls me to see other minorities using the exact arguments that were used to try to prevent integration in the past in a vain attempt to stop progress today. smh

  • yaoming

    What’s an “off-field issue”? Would that be like drug-abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, etc.? I wouldn’t compare being gay to those… but I guess this guy would.

  • jmi2

    ‘off field issues’ just like the wife-beaters & alleged murders they support through their silence? those kind of ‘issues’ right?

    when i got to the ‘Promise Keepers’ part i snickered. i lost a very big job because i would not listen to the guy talk about them. not to mention, i wouldn’t work with an *ssh*le who belonged anyway.

    not just Edward [sic] but all these guys are soooo christian – NOT!!!

  • TCPfrommer

    No, on the part of Edwards it’s called ignorance. He’ll be the first one bent over in the locker room “picking up the soap”. I’ll guarantee you the guy’s not only a homophobe (we all are) but the louder he screams “locker room backlash” the more he’s begging for gay sex. It’s always the loudest homophobes who are dying to take it you know where. Unfortunately, for him, he’s an ugly rube that no decent gay guy will touch him with the proverbial 10 foot pole. What a shame! But God has a way of taking care of idiots like him.

  • Julian Carr

    This is one of the best defensive end’s on College football, one of the best. This young man lives and breathes football. He is a man of integrity, ethics, values, morals and respect.

    Michael Sam has worked his entire life for this day, to play professional football. To do what he does best and is one of the most dedicated players. He is not out there committing domestic violence on spouse, sex boat allegations, sending obscene photos of himself to people, DWI’s, gun possession, drugs. I mean, for God’s Sake people, we have some world class star athletes out here, doing great work, and we also have our athletes who tend to end up more in the news and papers than on the field doing good things.

    Check it out, 27 NFL Players arrested just in the last 12 months, 27 players, what about other sports? This man lives to play ball, let him play ball, quit worrying about his personal life, that is his own business, what he does on the field, now that matters. JUlian

  • queenrosered

    @balehead: OMG Phew! I had to look it up to make sure, but Michael Sam DID just dodge a bullet with you on this one….He is a defensive lineman not a tight end! Hahaaa! Love your sense of’s going to take a lot of that and everything WILL be fine! he seems like a fine young player (of football, sorry! lol) ;)

  • Horse Lips

    I hate to say it but he sounds like a closeted homosexual to me.

  • balehead

    It’s like Jackie Robinson never existed for these haters…

  • Tackle

    @balehead: Sometimes I find you to be annoying and obnoxious. Just hard to understand at times. But today, your comment is right on point. Your few words said a great deal.

  • balehead

    The Sport leagues have formed non-profits to profit from on this issue….sad but true, it was always about the money….

  • Cagnazzo82

    Cup checking ESPN employees? Wait, what was that about? Wtf?

    So he was touching people’s junk as they were walking by to see if they were wearing a cup? Why would an ESPN employee be wearing a cup to begin with?

    He sounds substantially closeted. My guess would be a closeted bisexual. The signs are always there when bi people are struggling keeping in check the other side of their sexuality.

    He’s also a troglodyte, and Michael Sam is much brave than he’ll ever be.

  • mz.sam

    In reality no matter what the coaches and NFL front office decision makers’ perceptions and associations, as an organization the NFL have learned from from experience to avoid unnecessary attention at all costs. Example: no matter how talented and popular Tim Tebow was with (fellow religious) fans he created unwanted distractions even though he was able to fill seats at ballgames. Therefore, its been reported with Michael Sam’s coming out had knocked his chances of an NFL draft closer to the bottom.

  • QuintoLover

    That Personal assistant needs to be fired and have his @$$ Beat for saying that kind of sh*t!

  • that_dude247


  • DShucking

    Fuck him and the rest of them. Some of the trash they have on NFL teams aren’t bringing baggage? So tired of our society being run by oversized but insecure straight men.

  • mezzacanadese

    Just consider the source. Herm Edwards is obviously just an ignorant boob, and no-one should take seriously anything he says.

  • Respect4all

    Michael Sam certainly is a “man’s man”.

  • Ghstboi3

    It is sad to think that we are still saying wait for this and wait for that; if we waited for a couple of decades for the things we want we wouldn’t have the progress we now enjoy. What will it take for people to look beyond their own nose. I have enjoyed watching the games on the NFL for a number of years. There are and will continue to be gay people in the NFL, on the teams and in management. It is very rewarding to see a young man who want to take control of his life and his story. With all the publicity around him, I look forward to seeing a team/club that will have him as a member and to play on the team.

  • Mezaien

    @michaelroy: I could agree with you more!!. I remember in South Africa, before Mandela. As a white soldier and HOMO just like Russia, today; The white asses are everywhere.

  • Reid Condit

    Either way he wins. If no club picks him up, he may live to a ripe old age, concussion-free and with his brain intact.

  • Kieran

    The guys name is “Herm”. What an appropriate name for an asshole.

  • timaloha


  • Kangol

    Blah blah blah country not ready for blah blah blah.

    Herm Edwards is a creep, but he’s not alone. His hom0phobia has many parallels across the NFL. Nevertheless there are also many players, coaches, and team personnel, along with the owners, who can deal with an out gay player. They’ll be decisive in the end, not the hom0phobes like Cupcheck Loser Edwards.

    In terms of Michael Sam on the bottom or top, just the thought makes me ______!

  • Faggot

    “Jackie, we’ve got no army. There’s virtually nobody on our side. No owner, no umpires, very few newspapermen. And I’m afraid that many fans may be hostile. We’ll be in a tough position. We can win only if we can convince the world that I am doing this because you’re a great ballplayer, and a fine gentleman.” (1945)

    — Wesley Branch Rickey (December 20, 1881 – December 9, 1965)
    Brooklyn Dodgers President and General Manager (1942-50)

  • gaym50ish

    Re the stupid players who have brought up the issue of showering with a gay man, I wonder if it has occurred to them that they’ve been showering with gay boys since junior high gym class — they just didn’t know it.

    And if Michael Sam had NOT come of the closet, they would have been showering with him anyway. Is it somehow different if you KNOW which teammates are gay? Wouldn’t you think they would PREFER to have that knowledge?

  • arj

    Who cares what Herm the Sperm Edwards thinks? He is NOT involved with the NFL. His “superior” knowledge certainly got taken down a notch or two with being FIRED twice from head coaching positions, making him an “expert” for ESPN.

    Can it, Spermy. Your act is boring.

  • RobertJohns

    I don’t know anything about most sports. But I do have a pretty good grasp on human nature. I have a feeling that no matter how good Sam is at his job, homophobia will win in the end. I hope that I am proved wrong.

  • Shadeaux

    I’ve always thought Herm was sexy. Never knew he was such an F’ing idiot!

  • Louis

    This man has always been homophobic and uber religious so nothing he ever says surprises me disgusts me yes surprises me no.

  • jwrappaport

    @arj: Sperm Edwards. Boom. Definitely made my morning.

  • misterhollywood

    It will likely be hard for him – lets not kid ourselves. Too bad more have not come out. That would help a lot in terms of numbers – you know?

  • the other Greg

    As Jon Stewart pointed out last night, the NFL is uncomfortable with “distractions” and “controversy.”

    Of course, certain types of “controversy” are more traditional for NFL players… such as domestic assault charges… DUIs… accusations of murder… or having served prison time for torturing and killing dozens of dogs.

    THOSE are traditional distractions and controversies that the NFL knows how to deal with!

    But being gay? OMG, someone might faint, or withhold an endorsement or something. Eek.

  • balehead

    I don’t care what the trolls on here think….Usually progress means you can’t please everyone…oh well…..

Comments are closed.