Some NFL locker rooms may not be ready for an openly gay player, but there’s nothing players can do about it if their team drafts Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby said.
“If it happens, it happens,” Dansby said. “You have to adjust to that. We’re all related to football. Everything is related to football. If he leaves that outside the locker room, then that’s good.”
Sam publicly shared he is gay on Feb. 9, becoming the first openly gay NFL prospect. For the past week, players around the league have come out for and against having an openly gay player in an NFL locker room.
To Dansby, who said he hasn't knowingly had a gay teammate, it was just a matter of time until an openly gay player joined the NFL ranks.
“Everybody knew it was coming sooner or later,” Dansby said.
“So Sam coming out, hey, it’s OK. We know where you stand. Can the man play ball? He was the defensive player of the year in the SEC. Do you know how hard that is? That’s so hard to get. That shows he can play the game.”
Dansby agrees with many other players who have said Sam’s sexuality won’t determine if he makes an NFL roster. His performance on the field will determine that outcome.
“If you’re not a good football player, you won’t be on this level,” Dansby said. “It’s the cream of the crop. Every player in this league is a cream of the crop. In order to keep your job, you have to be the best.”
Dansby’s teammate, right tackle Eric Winston, boiled down Sam’s success in the NFL to one simple factor.
“I think at the end of the day, it’ll be can he get to the quarterback?” Winston said. “Is he going to be making the plays?”
Dansby said Sam's performance in the SEC speaks for itself. Dansby played linebacker in the SEC and saw firsthand how tough the competition is on a weekly basis. He also learned how difficult it was to win the conference’s defensive player of the year award.
“You really have to be balling,” Dansby said.
Whichever team drafts Sam, it will be his play on the field which bonds Sam and his new teammates, Dansby said.
“That’s the only way you can really relate because that man lives an entirely different life outside of football,” Dansby said. “I don’t think he’ll be the distraction. I think the media will be the distraction.
“Let the man be. Let the man live his life. You can’t judge people, man. We’re not God.”