Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam made headlines last weekend, when he publicly announced that he was gay. Sam, for now projected to be somewhere between a third and fifth round pick, would be the first openly gay player in the NFL.
The reaction to Sam’s announcement has largely been positive and supportive. Amongst those in the NFL coming out in support of Sam is Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, who said last week that the Cowboys would welcome Sam into their locker room and that the NFL is ready for a gay player.
Those words, combined with owner Jerry Jones’ reputation for seeking headlines and the fact that almost every high-profile, available player ever is brought up as a possible target for the Cowboys (because they’re the Cowboys), have fans wondering if Sam will be wearing a star on his helmet come fall.
The reality is, the Cowboys are unlikely to seriously consider Sam, for reasons that have nothing to do with his sexual preference and everything to do with the football player that he is on the field.
Sam, listed at 6’2, is undersized for an NFL defensive end, and probably will find a home in the NFL as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. After switching from Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3, the Cowboys already have several players on defense playing in a system that they’re not best suited for. The Cowboys absolutely could use help on defense to generate a pass rush, but Sam, despite leading the SEC in sacks, would only be set up to fail if he ends up in Dallas.
Additionally, of Sam’s 11.5 sacks, 9 of them came in a four-game stretch against Arkansas State, Vanderbilt and Florida (normally an SEC power, but a 4-8 team in 2013). There’s a reason that Sam isn’t expected to be taken until the middle or late rounds, despite being the co-defensive player of the year in the nation’s toughest conference.
Michael Sam is a good football player, and probably more importantly, he’s a courageous young man and has shown great character. His Missouri Tigers went from 5-7 to 12-2 and played for the SEC Championship, knowing all season that Sam was gay, so he’s clearly not a distraction in the locker room. He has a place in the NFL, and he’s going to have a lot of people rooting for him to succeed. But, he’s simply not a good fit for the Cowboys.
If you’re a Cowboys fan and you’re rooting for Sam to succeed, it’s in the best interest of both parties that they don’t end up together. Michael Sam, the football player, just isn’t right for these Dallas Cowboys.