Michael Sam will be remembered as a "significant figure" in NFL history regardless of whether the NFL’s first openly gay player becomes a success on the field, NBC commentator Bob Costas said Monday.
Sam was selected by the St Louis Rams late in the NFL Draft on Saturday. Despite impressive credentials in his final college season at Missouri, including being selected co-defensive player of the year in the SEC, Sam must overcome the same issue facing any late-round selection: Seventh-round picks are hardly a certainty to make a pro roster.
"I think more (gay) players will come forward, and in that respect, Michael Sam, no matter what kind of NFL career he has, is a significant figure just like Jason Collins, who hasn’t played a minute in the playoffs for the Nets, but nonetheless he’s a significant figure in the NBA,” Costas said on the Today Show. "This stuff is moving at warp speed. This kind of acceptance is happening quicker than any of us might have thought, and so I think the NFL is just getting in line with what’s happening in society overall."
While pointing out how the NFL Draft is an inexact science — Peyton Manning was a No. 1 overll pick and Tom Brady lasted until the 199th spot — Costas acknowledged making the cut is a meritocracy and the novelty of likely being one of the most closely followed seventh-rounders ever won’t offer Sam any advantage.
"It’s the media culture that we’re all a part of, and there’s going to be overreactions to it, but I think eventually he’ll be judged on his play, and it’s entirely possible that he won’t make it in the NFL," Costas said. "There are a lot of first-round draft choices, highly touted guys, that didn’t make it despite all the kind of over-analysis that defies parody that surrounds the NFL Draft."
Costas went on to say Sam should steer clear of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
"You can aggregate people for good causes and awareness, but at the same time, every creep and cretin on the planet can weigh in on every subject and every person," Costas said, "so he ought to stay away from that because it will not reflect how most people feel."