Irvin: NFL players should be mature enough to accept Sam as teammate
FEB 12, 2014 1:27p ET
In July 2011, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin was pictured on the cover of Out, a magazine focused on gay fashion and lifestyle.
In that edition, the Pro Football Hall of Famer said he would support a gay player.
In a recent interview on The Arsenio Hall Show, Irvin remained true to his word, supporting Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who announced Sunday that he is gay. Sam is projected to be drafted by an NFL team in May.
While many wonder how this announcement will affect Sam's draft stock, Irvin, an analyst for NFL Network, called it a "beautiful plan" because he says the league doesn't want to see Sam go undrafted.
"There is no way on God's green earth that the NFL wants him sitting there tick, tock, tick, tock, and not get drafted," Irvin said. "They don't want that. They do not want that. So trust me, I believe this may help him way more than hurt him."
Irvin, who had a gay brother, called Sam a good player and added that if he can rush the quarterback in the NFL, his sexual orientation won't matter.
In regards to how he will be accepted in an NFL locker room, Irvin pointed to how well the Missouri football team dealt with Sam announcing to them that he was gay before the 2013 season.
"The college athletes at Mizzou, they handled it perfectly. He told them before the season. In the SEC, you never heard about this. The very definition of a locker room is saying, 'Hey man, I got your back. You can count on me. I give you my word.' And that's exactly what those guys did. They had his back, they counted on him. I think that's what gave him the strength to come forward.
"Now, I would hate to think grown men in an NFL locker room are going to be less mature than those kids in college."