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It's not every day that you see Charles Barkley interviewing the President of the United States, and it's not every day that you see the President of the United States praising the courage of the first NFL hopeful to ever come out before the draft, but as you can see in the video at the top of that post, Monday, February 17, 2014 was that day.:

Asked by Barkley about Michael Sam's decision to become the first openly gay player to enter the NFL draft, President Obama praised Sam's courage, specifically for coming out before entering the league. "I'm glad Michael did it before the draft," the president said, "because his attitude was: I know who I am. I know I can play great football. And judge me on the merits."

The president compared Sam's decision to black athletes who broke the color barrier. "You think about what Jackie Robinson ended up meaning, not just to baseball, but to the entire society," he said. "I wouldn't be sitting here if it weren't for him. I think America is stronger where everybody is being treated with respect and dignity."

Meanwhile, despite punditry indicating that NFL front offices would discount Sam's draft value because he would be "a distraction" to teams, it appears that pundits and managers aren't as in sink with rank-and-file players as they claim. ESPN surveyed 51 player anonymously and found that the players overwhelmingly would feel comfortable playing with a gay teammate.

According to the survey, 44 of the 51 players said a player's sexual orientation would not matter to them and 39 of the 51 said they would shower around a gay player. The less pleasant results from the survey are that 32 of the 51 said they had heard homophobic slurs used by coaches and players in the last year and just 25 of them think a gay player would feel comfortable in the locker room (21 said they thought he wouldn't feel comfortable).

At least to me, that first number—44 of 51 saying sexual orientation does not matter—is the important number. It indicates that NFL players overwhelmingly believe in tolerance as a core value. I'm not saying that Michael Sam has signed up for a walk in the park—the players clearly don't believe so. But Michael Sam knew what he was signing up for, and ultimately he did it because he wants to play football just like every other NFL player. And whatever else you want to say about those in NFL front offices who don't understand that Sam's passion for football is an asset, not a liability, this much is clearly true: They are idiots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  hey jed, paragraph 4 (9+ / 0-)

    'in sync' - not 'in sink.'  

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:37:34 AM PST

  •  Well... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OIL GUY, TomP, tampaedski, blueyedace2

    "According to the survey, 44 of the 51 players said a player's sexual orientation would not matter to them and 39 of the 51 said they would shower around a gay player."

    Apparently 5 of the guys lied in the one question, because an unwillingness to shower around them sure sounds like orientation mattering to them.

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:39:34 AM PST

  •  Funny story about the showers.. (7+ / 0-)

    In my work as an IT consultant, I've had a lot of clients.  Including several former NFL players; as well as NFL players that are members of country clubs I work with.

    I'm reminded of something that someone told me.  Someone was joking with him about the lockerrooms in NFL teams, and he made the comment about 'injury' and 'special' showers that were separated out; that players didn't all shower in a big huge shower room like we imagine from our days in HS, and the big opening fight in a lot of lockerrooms was for the private spaces, which tended to go to the star players.

    I'm not saying that's the case here, but just so you know, guys aren't always so cool about showering with other -hetero- guys.   I know it wouldn't be my first preference if I had a shot at getting a private shower space.

    I'm just saying.. don't assume because five more people drop out on the communal use of a shower doesn't say much.   Depending on who it is, of course in their random poll.

    (In my mind, I'm imagining Peyton Manning saying 'Share a shower?  What is this, middle school?  Damnit, I get my own personal place of meditation, MF!')

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:41:19 AM PST

  •  Equality at last (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think it's wonderful that Bill O'Reilly is finally moving into the same journalistic ranks as Charles Barkley.  Bill has a ways to go, but still...

  •  I worry less about the players than I do the (4+ / 0-)

    opposing fans. Any team that drafts him you have to figure are going to emphasize to his teammates that homophobic nonsense won't be tolerated. Fans on the other hand are liable to yell all kinds of nasty shit. I remember Jim Eisenreich (sp?) when he played baseball. He had Tourettes and had the facial tics that often are symptoms. Some of the shit that got yelled at him by fans was amazing.

    •  Philly comes to mind (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      konving, blueyedace2, akze29

      Not because Philly is some hot-bed of anti-gay conviction, but because those fans have a pretty bad rep.

      We all went to heaven in a little rowboat, and there was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt. --Radiohead

      by Tzimisce on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:54:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In Europe we still occaisionally... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      (though far too often) have opposing fans make "monkey noises" when a black player has the ball in football (Americans call it soccer, of course). Fortunately UEFA and national FAs have been cracking down very hard on this for a few years now - imposing largish fines, deducting points, making teams play without any of their fans present. Still... it's awful. I would expect Sam will face similar obnoxious behavior, unfortunately.

      I ride the wild horse .

      by BelgianBastard on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:54:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think cracking down very hard is being (0+ / 0-)

        charitable. Spanish fans made monkey noises and threw bananas on the field at black English players a couple of years back and the fine was a something like 20k euros. A pittance for the Spanish FA

        •  Hey, could and should they do more? Certainly. (0+ / 0-)

          But there are a couple of things to keep in mind...

          Firstly, yes 50,000 euros (roughly 69.000 USD) is a pittance for clubs like Real Madrid, Man U or AC Milan. But there's only about twenty or thirty of those kind of teams in the whole of Europe. In Belgium for example only one team has a budget of more than 30.000.000 €. Only five teams a budget over 20 million. All other teams have budgets of less than ten million. A fifty thousand fine is quite a bit of money for those teams. A second division team would typically have a budget of one to three million. So saying that Barcelona is paying a pittance is the equivalent of saying a speeding ticket is cheap for Warren Buffet. Sure, but neither is typical. There are thousans of clubs in Europe, most of them operating on tiny budgets. Besides the bigger teams lose a lot more money when they are forced to play in empty stadiums. Tickets cost 40 € and up. A typical stadium for one the big teams holds 60,000 people or more. Add in lost revenue from concessions and hospitality and you are talking serious money, even for a big team. Those sky boxes aren't cheap.

          The other issue is that usually it is a small number of fans who are doing this amongst tens of thousands who are behaving properly. Also the owners and management of these teams certainly don't want the bad publicity. There is often little they can do to prevent this awful behavior at the time; the best they can do is, together with the police, identifythe culprits and issue stadium bans. Fining the team, preventing fans from watching their team comes close to collective punishment.

          So I'm all for clamping down, but I think it is also important to not go overboard punishing the wrong people. It's a complex problem, and just demanding harsher punishment sounds good, but is likely to not be very fair and more importantly probably won't solve the problem. It took a long time and combined efforts by the teams, police and others to (mostly) resolve footballs issues with hooliganism and this is likely to be no different I'm afraid.

          I ride the wild horse .

          by BelgianBastard on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 10:43:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Give me a break. Spanish fans are notorious for (0+ / 0-)

            this kind of crap. Its happened frequently and FIFA does, to use a good british expression, sweet fuck all about  it. 20k euros is nothing for the Spanish FA. Compare it to what they fined Nikolas Bendtner at the last world cup because he flashed his underwear which had the logo for an online betting company on it. Over 100k in fines for him. FIFA is a joke when it comes to this kind of stuff. The only time they ever crack down is if it happens to be one of the smaller countries, the rest are free to do what they want basically.

            •  In Europe this in decided by UEFA or FAs not FIFA. (0+ / 0-)

              And it is the clubs, not the national FAs that pay fines, unless the national team is involved.

              As for the 'small countries' stuff, teams fined in 2012, 2013 and 2014 include big teams from big countries like Roma, CSKA Moscow (also forced to play in an empty stadium), the Spanish and Russian national teams and Atletico Madrid is under investigation. That's not nothing. By the way the Atletico Madrid incident involved 500 fans at a game with an attendance of 70.000. Ok, that's five hundred too many to be sure but still a small minority, even if one assumes all of them participated.

              I ride the wild horse .

              by BelgianBastard on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 11:38:00 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Word. (5+ / 0-)
    I think America is stronger where everybody is being treated with respect and dignity

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:48:13 AM PST

    •  This statement (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Broken, emyrphe

      Or rather the disagreement with it, probably goes a long way to describe the derangement of people who hate the President just "because" and rail about "political correctness".

      It amazes me when people moan like that, that they can't understand that cooperation is usually a better route than confrontation, and pissing people off usually leads to confrontation.  It's as if they are saying "I'm going to insult you to your core, but I'm really a nice guy anyway"

  •  The players I don't think we need to worry about. (7+ / 0-)

    it's the old, fat, bald, white, male, hetero Christian owners that have 'issues.'

  •  Where do 250 plus pound gay football player play (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Any damn place ,he wont too   ,i hope Dallas pick him, they need lots of improvement on thier team ,Jerry Jones would be a fool not  too draft him

  •  My guess is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GrindtheHills, Broken

    Most players aren't going to have a problem with a homosexual teammate, but also aren't going to have a problem with a teammate who has a problem with homosexuals and would decline to criticize a player or coach using homophobic language.

  •  People are cruel under pressure (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And most athletes are still pretty young and immature so I am sure he will hear a lot of crap. And forever it will be something that he gets tossed at him whenever someone is angry (which seems to be a common football side-effect).

    However, being out will be less painful than playing along. If he can make it past the first month of crap without letting it get to him – it should be survivable. Not the best but not something that will stop him.

    As to other team's fans and players giving him a ration...It will just make his team love him more if he can play.

    As a fan, I would just care that he could play. And if he isn't on my team's roster and he is good, I will hate him for all the right reasons.

    "You know, just because the thing I saw wasn't there doesn't mean there wasn't something there that I didn't see." Ann Althouse, Conservative Thoughtmeister

    by Bill Section 147 on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:56:27 AM PST

    •  He's been playing ball (4+ / 0-)

      for a long time.

      He knows what gets said by coaches. It hasn't phased him so far and I doubt it will now. Many of us 'old-timers', no matter how much we support LGBT rights, can truly grasp what a non-issue this is for today's youth.

      Sam came out to his team mates at Missouri. I suspect these young men are a pretty conservative bunch on most issues. They mostly come from Red States, but they seem to have accepted Sam without qualification.

      It didn't hurt that he was the best defensive player on the team, but I think the biggest factor is that the overwhelming majority of college kids, regardless of politics, could care less about someone's sexual orientation. They aren't practicing tolerance, thye just don't get why this is an issue for anyone.

      Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

      by OIL GUY on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:16:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like Jackie Robinson,... (0+ / 0-)

        he'll have to be exceptional to survive.  Just to survive.  If he is an exceptional player on the field, the NFL owners and coaches will tolerate him because they want to win and make money above all else.  He'll also have to be a very nice guy, like Jackie Robinson.  His teammates accepted him, because they liked him.  If he is just good, or God forbid, average, he'll be gone in a year or two.  

        Make no mistake about it, this WILL be an issue in the locker room.  If you think the guy in Miami got hazed, wait and see what awaits this guy.  There will always be a few jerks that pick on him, overtly, or subtly - and that will get old.  In a way, this is worse than Jackie Robinson.  Robinson was a different color than they were.  In the end, so what?  His behavior on and off the field was probably exactly the same.  He was a man, and a baseball player.  He had a wife, a son, and all he wanted to do was the things his teammates wanted to do.  He just looked different, that's all - and for all but the dumbest racists, rejecting somebody just because they look different is just illogical.  Behavior, on the other hand is a different matter.

        As much as we try to reject the idea, homosexuals have different preferences than straight people.  They behave differently.  I'm not talking about stereotypical "flaming" behavior, just that they don't do exactly the same things after hours that that the other players do.  Even if the only difference is that they kiss and have sex with other guys, and typically are much more liberal than the average professional athlete.  The opposite of Jackie Robinson, this guy "looks" like them, but he doesn't "behave" like them.  Hard to hear, I'm sure, for some, but it's the reality he has to live with if he wants this job.

        As for the suits, at the very least, this will always be a tie-breaker.  If everything else is equal between him and another player, why would they want the hassle?

        •  How do you know that? (0+ / 0-)

          What if he has a boyfriend or spouse he goes home to at night?  How is that so different from a straight player going home to his wife?

          I'm not sure what different 'behaviors' you think he'll engage in.  Honestly, we do pretty much the same shit as everyone else.

          If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." - John F. Kennedy

          by Dem Beans on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:48:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's so stereotypical of you. (0+ / 0-)

          "Just that they don't do exactly the same things after hours, etc. etc."

          Tell me, why is it that the boorish, drunken, womanizing that heterosexyal ball players  engage in is seen as "macho," and is acceptable, but you have to call out a gay guy if he might stray "out of bounds."

          One's sexual orientation has nothing to do with morals or standards.  You either have them or you don't, gay or straught.

        •  So you're saying that LGBT (0+ / 0-)

          folks don't do what straight people do.

          I suppose the clearest example of what you're saying is that LGBT Americans don't like football.

          I'm sure Michael Sam avoided watching football when he was a youngster, preferring instead to watch Live from The Met on PBS

          Here's my take on it - the revolution will not be blogged, it has to be slogged. - Deoliver47

          by OIL GUY on Thu Feb 20, 2014 at 08:00:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with you (0+ / 0-)

        I think most of the players will be OK. But even sometimes your friends lash out at you and hurt you more than your enemies. I think being out will help him in the long run but the first weeks are hell for everyone and he is a target just as a rookie.

        "You know, just because the thing I saw wasn't there doesn't mean there wasn't something there that I didn't see." Ann Althouse, Conservative Thoughtmeister

        by Bill Section 147 on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:44:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Cracked me up! (0+ / 0-)

      "And if he isn't on my team's roster and he is good, I will hate him for all the right reasons."
      Absolutely Hilarious!

    •  People are narcissistic when they are heros (0+ / 0-)

      Look at the male celebrities who get into trouble with women.  They may not rape the women, but they assume that all women want to have sex with them, so when a women shows a little bit of interest perhaps they don't take the normal hour or two that one should, or at least a minute on craigslist to find a willing partner, you know that little extra effort, that many of us would take.  They just take whatever partner shows up, pulls them into an alley, and penetrates.

      This is self image is extended to gay men.  Obviously, since they are sports stars, all gay men must revere and want them.  No human who is attracted to the male of the species could possible have any self control around them.  Therefore, when they are in the shower, the average gay man will have no choice but to start sucking, or whatever,

      Alternatively, it could be that heterosexual male athlete treat their sexual partners so horrible, objectify them so obviously, and use them so mercilessly, that they cannot imagine a sexual relationship where two partners are equal.  This scares them because a gay male football player might objectify them treat them as something to be used, and then thrown away.

  •  As long as he's not a Patriot n/t (0+ / 0-)

    We all went to heaven in a little rowboat, and there was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt. --Radiohead

    by Tzimisce on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:57:07 AM PST

  •  There will be some jerks, but let's face it: (4+ / 0-)

    NFL players have all played with gay players at some point in their lives.

    And -- we can't run our lives or our businesses on the basis of a few jerks.

    Football players are young men, unencumbered by the lifetime of prejudice we oldsters accumulate.

    It's a sport where 35 is old.
    For some positions, 30 is old.

    The problem comes from those wearing suits and ties, not from those wearing pads.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 07:57:09 AM PST

    •  And we know it hasn't been a problem (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tzimisce, dinotrac, Darmok

      Jerry Smith, star TE for Washington, was known to be gay by his roommate (on the road) and most of his teammates, in the 70s. They didn't care. The Houston Oilers have revealed they know they had two gay players on the team in '93, they didn't care. We know, as Cyd Zeigler from Outsports noted this Sunday, of at last 200 athletes in high school, college and pro sports that have come out; those on team sports report near-total acceptance. This simply won't be an issue once Sam proves himself capable in the combine and training camp.

      Cruelty might be very human, and it might be very cultural, but it's not acceptable.- Jodie Foster

      by CPT Doom on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:01:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  With the salaries these guys make in their little (0+ / 0-)

    non-profit venture, I would be surprised if sexual orientation is a significant issue; seems more of a media fueled controversy.

  •  The ACA is a success, support for gays... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the right wing is constantly losing ground.

  •  The flash point will be with players who are (0+ / 0-)

    prominently involved with "Christian Athlete" type groups or who are trophy members of mega-churches.

    If the gay comes to their town their fellow travelers will demand to know where they stand on this gay stuff and they are going to have to be fer it or agin it.

  •  Don't forget that Sam likely has heard homophobic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tampaedski, blueyedace2

    slurs in the college locker room already.
    Just like with DADT; recognizing that people are gay does not make them gay. LGBT football players are currently putting up with homophobia, most are just doing it quietly.

    I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong. Seldom turns out the way it does in this song.

    by mungley on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:12:15 AM PST

  •  Anyone surprised (3+ / 0-)

    that NFL players have become less homophobic than NFL executives?

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:16:46 AM PST

  •  On the one hand it's gret that Sam had the courage (0+ / 0-)

    to take this step.

    On the other hand it's disappointing this is still a thing in 2014.

    I ride the wild horse .

    by BelgianBastard on Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 08:41:44 AM PST

  •  The matter of "gays in the locker room" (0+ / 0-)

    This will turn out to be the biggest non-issue since, well, "gays in the military". Everyone knows gay people have always served in the military, & just about every athlete playing a team sport knows gay people have seen him/her naked. There's really nothing erotic about locker rooms anyway, except in gay porn fantasies. The part about opposing fans using homophobic taunts may be a more serious matter, though this too will fade over time.

  •  Is this populace ahead of the leaders redux? (0+ / 0-)

    The players sound more okay about this than the front office reps - my $0.02 from the post-Sims announcement headlines.

  •  If the military can do it, so can the NFL (0+ / 0-)

    After one year since the repeal of DADT, the military says the policy is working.  

    Not in any way to compare the heroics and trust one must have on the battlefield with the football field, there can be an analogy made regarding the reliance each team player must have on one another.  Doing the job is all that is asked.  Sexual orientation has absoloutely nothing to do with performance on the field or in battle.

  •  I'm sorry but . . . . (0+ / 0-)

    . . . . I really don't care to hear President Obama's views on Michael Sam or any other non-government issue.  I'm getting tired of seeing the president on every late-night show, every talk show, and interviewed several times a week.  I would like President Obama to stay in the White House, focus on improving his cabinet and their performance, and stay away from the media for a day or two.  I love President Obama and I support him on virtually every major issue, but I'm definitely getting tired of seeing and hearing him several times a day on every issue under the sun.  

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