SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – If the 49ers end up drafting openly gay NFL prospect Michael Sam, the team will look past his sexuality in hopes that he can help the red and gold return to the Super Bowl, according to comments from quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick said during an interview Sunday that his team doesn’t worry about a person’s personal life, just their ability to help win ballgames.
“I think when he steps into that locker room, everyone’s going to know that he’s there to help us win games,” Kaepernick told ESPN. “And that’s why you’re in the NFL, to help us win games. No one cares if you’re black, white, straight, gay, Christian, Jewish, whatever it may be.”
After Sam – the 2013 SEC Co-Defensive player of the year – publicly announced he was gay, Niner GM Trent issued a statement in support of Sam.
Dr. Daniel T. Durbin, director of the Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media and Society at the University of Southern California said Kaepernick’s comments are a good sign for the 49ers.
“You hope that your quarterback is a leader,” said Durbin. “That’s really what you pay them to do. Kaepernick has stepped forward and really has been a leader in the discussion on this. It’s a very clear statement.”
Durbin said this is likely to put other quarterbacks in the NFL on the spot and that they now have to respond, in some way to Sam’s coming out.
“Almost certainly, they’ll have to respond in a positive way. The interesting thing about homophobic behavior is that [it’s] not necessarily representative of the individuals that play the game, but it really comes when a group or organization facilitates that kind of behavioral nature in the locker room.”
Durbin said in an era of everyone having a cell phone and the ability to record that kind of behavior in the locker room that it’s no longer hidden from the public.
“Even if they don’t record it, certainly it comes out one way or another. You have to treat locker rooms in many respects as a public space.”
He assessed that a change in that direction would be good for football and healthy for the NFL and its players.
Sam will learn his fate May 8-10th when the NFL holds its annual draft in New York City.