NFL Nation Says: Michael Sam

Current players weigh in on how Michael Sam will affect the league. Matthew Visinsky/Icon SMI

Four days have passed since Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam's historic announcement, one that puts him in position to be the first openly gay man to play in the NFL. As the dust settled on the news, ESPN.com's NFL Nation reached out to a cross-section of players to help address two important questions:

What is the greatest challenge facing Sam as he moves into the professional ranks? How will his announcement change the league?

Answers ranged the spectrum of opinion. Many suggested Sam would be challenged more by increased public attention than by anything he encountered inside the NFL culture. Some, most notably New York Giants defensive back Terrell Thomas, think the league isn't ready for an openly gay player.

In the end, St. Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis said, Sam's announcement provides players "an opportunity to show kind of their class" by demonstrating how the team concept can supersede the natural differences of opinions in a group setting. Read on for additional comments: