Insiders have speculated that openly gay NFL hopeful Michael Sam may have damaged his chances of being drafted by coming out.
Speaking on the Capital Games podcast, Bill Polian, an ESPN analyst said he thinks Sam’s coming out earlier this year could prove a “distraction”, and teams may be reluctant to take on potential media scrutiny.
“One of the questions you would ask is, as a football player, is he worth all of the trouble we’re going to have in terms of the early going with media, with involvement by the league office, with involvement by special interest groups, et cetera? Is he worth all that trouble?” Polian said on ESPN.
“There are going to be some teams, unfortunately, who say, ‘No, he isn’t.’ He’s not that great a player that they’re going to be willing to put up with the early kinds of intrusions – football people would view them as intrusions and distractions – that you will get, because this is not a sports media issue,” he continued.
“This is MSNBC. This is Fox News network. This is [Bill] O’Reilly-type stuff that is going to get forced into your football program.”
Polian went on to say, however, that he thought no locker room would be less welcoming to Sam because of his sexuality.
He said: “The players won’t have any issue with [his sexual orientation] at all.”
“Michael, while a good player and in my humble opinion good enough to make it in the league, and make a team and be a contributor as a pass rusher and special teams player, they may not see the distraction as worth their while,” Polian said.
Other experts have said they think Sam’s sexuality could attract extra attention to any team which may draft him.