McCarthy says evaluation of openly gay DE Michael Sam all about football

Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Michael Sam, who came out as gay: "Any player that can come here and be a good teammate, follow the rules of our program which is, one, be respectful and produce on the football field, we've got room for that guy."

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Count the Green Bay Packers among the NFL teams that won’t hesitate to draft Michael Sam if the openly gay defensive lineman out of Missouri proves to be a good fit in the system.

One day after Sam made his sexual orientation public, coach Mike McCarthy supported him. McCarthy also made it clear that, as he evaluates Sam in the coming months before the draft, all that matters is the same things that matter for any intriguing college prospect.

"I think you definitely have to feel he’s a courageous young man, but my understanding is that he’s a talented player," McCarthy said Monday. "We’ve always from day one talked about our program and about our culture. (General manager) Ted (Thompson) and them are going through the draft process right now and, at the end of the day, it comes down to good football players.

"Any player that can come here and be a good teammate, follow the rules of our program which is, one, be respectful and produce on the football field, we’ve got room for that guy."

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Alex Van Pelt, who spent a decade as an NFL quarterback and was just promoted by the Packers from running backs coach to quarterbacks coach, also supported Sam.

"That’s very courageous on his part, there’s no question," Van Pelt said. "If anybody can come in and help us win games and be successful — black, white, yellow, straight, gay — I don’t think it matters. As long as you’re a good person and you’re respectful in the locker room to each other, then you can help us win on Sundays and are welcome."

Sam, listed at 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, had 11.5 sacks as a senior this past season and was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year. He is projected as a late fourth-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

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