As expected, when New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese took the podium for his NFL Combine press conference on Saturday, he was riddled with questions about Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam and his sexual orientation. However, Reese was far less interested in talking about Sam's sexual orientation than he was in discussing his ability on the football field.
Ultimately, Reese refused to address Sam's "coming out."
"I'm not talking about that. If you want to talk about him as a football player that's fine," Reese said. "What people do in their personal life, I'm not concerned about that."
Unfortunately, members of the media weren't all that interested in discussing Michael Sam the football players so much as Michael Sam the first openly gay NFL Draft prospect. But, as a softball question, one member tossed out an inquiry about Sam winning SEC Defensive Player of the Year — but that was it.
And so ended the line of questioning about Sam.
With all the talk about Sam and the impact he'll will have on an NFL locker-room, the media seemed far more interested in potential drama than his ability on a football field. And, when Sam ultimately took the podium, he expressed similar sentiments to Jerry Reese.
It was in that moment that the reality of the situation became clear: other NFL players won't be the problem for Michael Sam, but the media certainly will. It's a story they will refuse to let go and exactly what Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas referenced when he discussed the concerns Michael Sam will bring to an NFL team. The questioning and inquiry will be overbearing and relentless as members of the media will thrive on this storyline.
But, on a football-specific level, Sam said he models himself after retired New York Giants defensive end and NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan. Sadly, you won't hear much about that because it's not relevant to his sexual orientation.
Ultimately, Sam held his own. He came across as calm, confident and humorous. He was just like every other guy and proved he'll be able to handle whatever comes next. Unfortunately, much of that won't focus on football … no matter where he's drafted.
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