When Missouri defensive end Michael Sam told The New York Times and ESPN he is gay he was taking a chance with his NFL draft appeal. But while their was some derision from sportscasters and pundits, there was also a lot of support shown toward Sam. To the nation's surprise even the NFL released a statement very supportive of Sam:
"We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."
Arizona is poised to take the opposite view in terms of acceptance of differing persuasions. With SB1062 still sitting on the Governor's desk awaiting either a signature or a veto, Arizona's football officials felt the need to speak up. The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee released a brief statement on Monday:
ARIZONA SUPER BOWL HOST COMMITTEE STATEMENT ON SB 1062
We share the NFL's core values which embrace tolerance, diversity, inclusiveness and prohibit discrimination. In addition, a key part of the mission for the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee is to promote the economic vitality of Arizona. On that matter we have heard loud and clear from our various stakeholders that adoption of this legislation would not only run contrary to that goal but deal a significant blow to the state's economic growth potential. We do not support this legislation. Instead, we look forward to continuing to promote the NFL's values while focusing on the economic momentum apparent in Arizona and capturing the positive worldwide attention associated with hosting Super Bowl XLIX.
The Arizona Cardinals also issued a statement Monday:
"What so many love about football is its ability to bring people together. We do not support anything that has the potential to divide, exclude and discriminate. As a prominent and highly-visible member of this community, we strive to bring positive attention to the state. We are concerned with anything that creates a negative perception of Arizona and those of us who are fortunate to call it home."
Even the NFL decided to add a bit of finger wagging toward Arizona, possibly implying that should the law go into effect the Super Bowl may have to find a new home. Monday afternoon the NFL's Greg Aiello issued the following statement:
"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are following the issue in Arizona and will continue to do so should the bill be signed into law, but will decline further comment at this time."
A boycott by the NFL is possible, and not without precedence. That precedence happens to be from Arizona, as well. Super Bowl XXVII was originally scheduled to be played in Tempe, but Arizona was having a hard time getting its voters to go along with recognizing Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday. The NFL said they would pull the Super Bowl out of Arizona if voters refused to recognize the federal holiday on the next ballot initiative. It was voted down, so the NFL made good on its threat and played that year's big game in Pasadena instead.
Voters, however, got the message and approved MLK Day before that game was even played. The NFL responded by awarding Arizona the next year's Super Bowl.
The law should have been vetoed by now, but it seems that Governor Brewer won't act until there is pressure from all sides. Some people just thrive under pressure.