NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has taken aim at the anonymous front office executives who have said that Michael Sam would be too much of a distraction to draft, because of his sexuality. Speaking to CSN Washington, Smith didn’t mince his words:
“[W]hen you contrast a group of anonymous G.M.’s against a 24-year-old college player, it seems like only one of them had the guts to put his name behind his message. So my first reaction has nothing to do with Michael Sam. My reaction is to call those G.M.’s for what they are: They’re gutless. And if a young man has the courage to stand up and put his name and his face to talk about what he thinks is important, I would expect that a grown man can do exactly the same thing. But apparently they can’t.”
Smith was more optimistic over how Sam would be received by NFLPA members, once he was signed on with a team:
“I have a tremendous amount of respect and expectation for our young man and some of our not-so-young men in our locker rooms. We believe that the locker room, as much of a locker room as it is, it’s a workplace. And I think the expectation for all of our young men is to treat every person in their workplace with respect.”
He also said the NFLPA would fully come to Sam’s defence if there were any issues with locker room homophobia:
“This isn’t a union that has had a tough time stepping in with two feet to protect the interests of its players. If there ever came a time where we believe that there was a need for us to do something for this player or any player similarly situated, I’m sure the league wouldn’t be surprised to see a letter from me coming across their desk.”
It could put the NFLPA in an awkward situation if Sam is harassed by a fellow union member, but taking shots at the front office is clearly something Smith is empowered to do.