Former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum discusses drafting Michael Sam

Michael Sam
Michael Sam announced this Sunday that he was gay.
Credit: Getty Images

Michael Sam’s announcement that he will become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL created all sorts of headlines. It also will have an impact on his draft status.

The issue might not be how Sam’s sexual orientation will hamper his ability on the field but rather if he will be a distraction for his new teammates. After all, an NFL locker room is a cross-segment of the population at large and not all of his future teammates will be accepting of who he is. There’s also bound to be intense media scrutiny no matter which team drafts him.

All this might make Sam, slotted as a mid-round selection in this spring’s NFL Draft, a less-tantalizing prospect for NFL teams than he was this time last week.

“If I was drafting, the fact that he made this announcement wouldn’t affect my evaluation. It remains to be seen what happens on draft day, as it is there is some disagreement about him as a player,” former Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum told Metro New York. “I hope that his draft status isn’t affected. What he did by making the announcement is show tremendous strength and courage. Those are attributes that are sought after by every team.”

But the announcement and his decision to make his sexuality public might be something some teams will wish to avoid.

One NFL scout for an elite NFC team told Metro on Monday they had an initial grade on Sam somewhere in the fourth or fifth round. Now, the scout wasn’t so sure how things would play out.

“Whether he intended to or not, he now has a lot of baggage,” the scout said. “It has everything to do with him being a distraction and nothing to do with his lifestyle. I don’t think most teams care about that. What they will care about is the other 52 players in the locker room constantly being asked about it. It will become a distraction.

Again, it has nothing to do with him being gay. I think teams are fine with that and merely want him to be healthy like they would any other player. That isn’t a concern. The concern is the media attention and scrutiny. All that press scared teams off from Tim Tebow. In a very different context, that will happen now with Sam.”

The scout spoke on the condition of anonymity because he’s not supposed to comment publicly on player evaluations.

“I see him being a Tebow and teams become scared because of everything that now goes with him,” the scout said.

Sam’s talent level — a likely mid-round prospect — means teams will be tempted to not draft him, the scout said. Teams can merely bypass Sam and say they had other players at his position ranked higher on the draft board. This would be more difficult, the scout said, if he was a first-round talent.

Tannenbaum sees Sunday’s announcement by Sam as a positive because teams will be able to examine his character and courage. He also isn’t concerned about Sam being received in an NFL locker room.

Prior to his senior season at Missouri, Sam came out to his fellow teammates and the secret was kept in their locker room. He was All-SEC and a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given by the Maxwell Football Club to the nation’s top defensive player, during his final season.

“He should be received in the locker room without any issues,” Tannenbaum said. “If you look at Missouri, they all knew about his sexuality and they went on to have a tremendous year and it was a non-factor for them.”

Tannenbaum’s track record in the draft included selecting Darrelle Revis, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold in the first round.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Police seek mother of slain 11-year-old on involuntary…

Police are seeking the mother of an 11-year-old girl who was accidentally shot to death by her 2-year-old brother two weeks ago on involuntary manslaughter…

Local

Chestnut Hill College student found dead Wednesday morning

A 22-year-0ld Chestnut Hill College student was found dead this morning inside a college dormitory, police said.

International

Nearly 300 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

Almost 300 people were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years.

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Books

Poems from prison: 'How to Survive a Bullet…

Celebrate National Poetry Month with, "'How to Survive a Bullet to the Heart."

Movies

Review: 'Heaven is for Real' tries to be…

The mega-bestseller "Heaven is for Real" becomes a movie that tries to portray wrestling with faith — or at least it tries to try.

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 16: 'The Americans,'…

'The Americans' Philip and Elizabeth face "painful turns" in their missions. Maybe next week they'll have a nice easy mission with no moral ambiguity? Probably…

U.S. Soccer

Andrew Wenger has big shoes to fill on…

Lancaster County native Andrew Wenger will feel pressure to fill the shoes of departer forward Jack McInerney.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

NBA

Sixers, Michael Carter-Williams give fans a happy ending…

The 2013-14 season for the 76ers has nearly come to a close.

NHL

Flyers must make Rangers feel their presence

Perhaps it’s the proximity of the two biggest cities in the East, because whenever these two square off the intensity seems to rise.

Home

Steal home decorating tips from stylist and creator…

We hit her up for some space-conscious, budget-friendly design tips.

Food

Wahlbergs expanding Wahlburgers fast food joint across North…

Wahlburgers will open new restaurants in Boston, Toronto and Philadelphia.

Wellbeing

Could a facelift give you the edge at…

It's not just women lining up for procedures.

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…