Robert Dominic Ventre II
Staff WriterRecently-outed NFL hopeful defensive end Michael Sam returned to his alma mater, the University of Missouri, Saturday, February 15th. He was greeted by a swell of protesters acting as representatives of notorious hate group Westboro Baptist Church. But their presence was barely noticeable over the roar of the applause Missouri students gave to Michael Sam in support of his recent decision to publicly come out as gay. This was on February 9th, and since Sam's announcement on ESPN's Outside the Lines with Chris Connelly, he has received ever-growing support from his fans, his former teammates in the Mizzou Tigers, and even representatives from the NFL. Other NFL reps had a harder time accepting the news, "I don't think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet," responded and unnamed 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." Another anonymous NFL assistant stated that Sam's decision to come out was, "not a smart move," and that it would have "legitimately affects [his] potential earnings." The primary concern seems to be over Sam's teammates' comfort levels. Some NFL players responded to the news by expressing that knowing of Sam's orientation while in the locker room would be distracting. Other players responded with open support: In Tweet from Jonathan A. Martin, who has recently been subject to controversy in the NFL as well, he states: https://twitter.com/J_Martin71/status/432702504212496385 While DeAngelo Williams expressed his opinion on his Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeAngeloRB/status/432696991051558912 While Sam held up the Cotton Bowl trophy in the Mizzou Arena at 1:30 PM, an assembly of over 4,800 students arrived to show their love and support for Sam by blocking protesters from Westboro Baptist Church's entry into the event. The Missouri students formed a human wall that stretched for nearly half-a-mile, all dedicated to keeping the detested religious group from obstructing the event by decrying Sam and his “sinful” ways. Among the group barring Westboro's entry was Max Copeland, former Mizzou Tigers defensive lineman, who had this to say: “This is one of those things where it’s a way to stand up for our brother while still communicating peace, love and acceptance.” This display of love and acceptance is a good illustration of how tides are changing in the LGBT debate in the U.S. There are still many who would, and do, condemn Sam's decision to come out as gay, but they are definitive examples of a vocal minority, and their aggressive antics will always garner them undue attention from a viewer-hungry media. This attention makes them seem so much more massive and frightening than they actually are. In reality, Westboro's suppression by a crowd of vocally supportive students over 4,000 strong shows that it is no longer acceptable in America to express hatred and disdain for a fellow human being based on their sexuality or lifestyle. support for Sam and his bravery:
"@PopWrapped: @Mizzou students rally vs @WBCSays." It'll be epic! 1000s at our #GetBackSam #InTheCloset picket!