Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis has voiced his support for former Missouri defensive end and NFL prospect Michael Sam after he came out as gay. According to a report by ESPN on Feb.9, Bettis feels the time is right for an openly gay player in the NFL.
As reactions continue to spread regarding Michael Sam’s announcement about his sexuality, Bettis is supportive of Sam mostly because of the message is sending. Bettis spoke out about the SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Sunday night.
“For him to make it public that he is gay, the key word is he knows who he is and he’s comfortable with who he is. I think that sends the message that it is OK and I think that’s what everyone needs to take from that. It is OK that he is gay and wants to play football in the NFL.”
Bettis said there will probably be around 90 to 95 percent of NFL players who will welcome Sam, but there will always be a few who will be uncomfortable. Michael Sam seems to have the toughness to face whatever he will receive. As far as if the NFL is ready, Bettis believes now is the perfect time to find out.
“I think this is the perfect opportunity for the NFL to now make this a point to communicate to every NFL team now you have to understand, now you have to bring these players to this moment.”
If an NFL team drafts Michael Sam, he will make history as the first openly gay player in the NFL and will bring attention to whatever team he becomes apart of. As Sam has expressed a desire to be the person he is and be the best football player he can be, Bettis feels the challenge for Sam will be how he handles the few players who may be opposed to who he is.
“You’re always going to have one or two guys that feel strongly in a different capacity but that’s going to be in any situation you deal with. You understand that and hope those players allow him to be in that locker room and give him the respect he deserves being in the locker room.”
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