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coach, he's looking at me!If you were anywhere near a news source last night, you learned that University of Missouri defensive lineman and SEC [Southeastern Conference] co-defensive player of the year Michael Sam came out as gay. There was no teasing of the story for a million years at the national level, so the piece was a surprise to a lot of people, though a one million word behind-the-scenes story made clear that the rollout was a long time coming. Good on you, football player we have not heard of! We are not sportsball people, but we are perfectly aware that it is not a super fun time to be a gay man in pro sports. In case we needed that confirmed for us, Sports Illustrated granted anonymity to eight NFL executives so they would feel free to say some really super-bigoted shit about the whole thing and to explain how being a homosexual makes you a less valuable NFL draft pick.

One brave anonymous NFL assistant coach explained that locker rooms are really just hothouses for delicate flowers who can’t possibly deal with the gay.

“There are guys in locker rooms that maturity-wise cannot handle it or deal with the thought of that,” the assistant coach said. “There’s nothing more sensitive than the heartbeat of the locker room. If you knowingly bring someone in there with that sexual orientation, how are the other guys going to deal with it? It’s going to be a big distraction. That’s the reality. It shouldn’t be, but it will be.”

Ahh yes, the patented gay panic statement with just a touch of sad: dudes are gonna freak, but we wish that wasn’t so, but trolololol it is, so ipso facto won’t take the gay guy. Weird, since the entire Mizzou team has known for a year and didn’t dissolve into a heart-stricken mess over the fact, but maybe the locker room doesn’t get so tender until the pros? Good thing that having sexual assault allegations hanging over your head for a chunk of 2013 isn’t so hard for locker rooms to take, as no one is speculating about how they won’t take Florida State’s Jameis Winton when he becomes draft eligible.

Another NFL tough guy cloaked in the soft warmth of anonymity said that all that publicity would be just too hard to take.

If Sam is among that group of players, the potential distraction of his presence — both in the media and the locker room — could prevent him from being selected.

“That will break a tie against that player,” the former general manager said. “Every time. Unless he’s Superman. Why? Not that they’re against gay people. It’s more that some players are going to look at you upside down. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in the media is going to show up, from Good Housekeeping to the Today show. A general manager is going to ask, ‘Why are we going to do that to ourselves?'”

Yes, because if there’s the one thing the NFL hates, it’s a player getting attention for something non-football related, which is why no one drafted high-profile god botherer Tim Tebow oh wait of course someone did.

Of couse, we also have the fact that football just can’t help how manly it is, and the gay might un-manly it too much.

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

Whoa. The NFL must be so super manly. Like, way manlier than the Green Berets.

Finally, much sound and fury signifying something something about how he will probably drop in the draft, if he’s drafted at all, because of course he’s not all that good a player, not because he’s gay, duh. Probably totally true! Except for the fact that SEC Defensive Players of the year pretty much always get drafted.

If this kind of nonsense is representative of sportsball feelings about the gays, Michael Sam is going to have a tough road, but maybe some team can sac up and be man enough to take him. Unironic good luck wishes to you, dude.

[NYT/OutSports/Sports Illustrated]

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