In a searing rebuff to pervasive anti-gay attitudes in professional football, Dallas sportscaster Dale Hansen delivers a moving and insightful commentary on NFL-bound University of Missouri All-American defensive lineman Michael Sam, who came out publicly last weekend and will be the first openly gay professional football player.
In Dale Hansen’s words:
It was quite a weekend.
That little dust-up in Lubbock Saturday night, and then on Sunday, Missouri’s All-American defensive end Michael Sam – the SEC’s defensive player of the year and expected to be a third to fifth-round pick in the NFL draft – tells the world he’s gay.
The best defensive player in college football’s best conference only a third to fifth round NFL pick? Really? That is shocking, and I guess that other thing is, too.
Michael Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL; says he knows there will be problems… and they’ve already started.
Several NFL officials are telling Sports Illustrated it will hurt him on draft day because a gay player wouldn’t be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would be uncomfortable, because that’s a man’s world.
You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You’re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft.
You kill people while driving drunk? That guy’s welcome.
Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they’re welcome.
Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away?
You lie to police trying to cover up a murder?
We’re comfortable with that.
You love another man? Well, now you’ve gone too far!
It wasn’t that long ago when we were being told that black players couldn’t play in “our” games because it would be “uncomfortable.” And even when they finally could, it took several more years before a black man played quarterback.
Because we weren’t “comfortable” with that, either.
So many of the same people who used to make that argument (and the many who still do) are the same people who say government should stay out of our lives.
But then want government in our bedrooms.
I’ve never understood how they feel “comfortable” laying claim to both sides of that argument.
I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he’s gay; I don’t understand his world.
But I do understand that he’s part of mine.
Civil rights activist Audre Lord said: “It is not our differences that divide us. It’s our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
We’ve always been able to recognize ’em. Some of us accept ’em.
And I want to believe that there will be a day when we do celebrate ’em.
I don’t know if that day’s here yet. I guess we’re about to find out.
But when I listen to Michael Sam, I do think it’s time to celebrate him now.