First Post: Michael Sam

by Chanel Smith

Hello Ravens Nation! I’m excited to move my thoughts from twitter (@torreysmithwr) WordPress.  As some of you may know, I am very vocal and enjoy talking about current events, and any random thoughts that cross my mind.  Having the ability to interact with others via social media has been amazing, and blogging will take it to another level.  There is no better time than now! My offseason consists of working out in the morning, coming home to my beautiful pregnant wife Chanel, sharing laughs with her nephew Kyleem, and talking to you guys on twitter and Instagram.  Not too glamorous for a professional athlete, but it is THE LIFE to me.  Lets jump straight into it. My first post will talk about something that is considered controversial to some…..Michael Sam announcing that he is gay.

I would personally like to applaud Michael Sam for being the first in this profession to be open and honest about his sexuality. This shows his courage and strength.  I will not call him a hero because that title belongs to the soldiers who defend our freedom, our right to practice our religion, and even our right to choose our sexual orientation.  I will call him a man. A man who has proudly stepped to the forefront of an ongoing and controversial topic, to say who he is and what he stands for. So many children and adults struggle with the battle that

Michael just won.  He doesn’t have to live a secret life and can live “freely”.  Can you imagine living your entire life knowing that you can never truly be yourself, simply because it’s different than how society feels you are “supposed” to be?  Chasing your dreams, knowing the consequences of being yourself could be detrimental to your career? If you can do your job well, why does it matter what you do in your personal life? No man or woman should ever have to deal with that stress, especially in this country.

I was recently asked if I would mind playing with an openly gay man. My response? Absolutely not! If he is a great football player and can help us win our next Super  Bowl, I could care less about who or what he likes as long as he performs on the field.  Some may argue that it could effect the chemistry in the locker room but that shouldn’t be an issue. Most men are comfortable with their sexuality.  The University of Missouri football team is proof of that. If a group of athletes 18-22 years old can handle having an openly gay teammate, why can’t a group of professional athletes?  Things may have been a little different 15-20 years ago, but society is different now. As long as there is a reciprocation of respect, the locker room environment shouldn’t be an issue.

There will continue to be an ongoing debate concerning this topic, but let’s face the facts. Many of us (players), and people in general, have openly gay family members and friends (I happen to be one of them). If we could bet (I’m just using the phrase Mr. Goodell), I would say there are plenty of other guys, playing in the NFL right now, who are living secret lives, too afraid to be open about their sexuality.  Michael Sam may have given those guys hope that they can be themselves and that we (society/NFL) will accept it.  Michael Sam may have been the first to do it, but he will not be the last. Don’t judge him based on his sexual preference; judge him based on his talent on the field.  At the end of the day, if he could help the 2014 Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl, I would welcome him any day of the week. I am just one voice of many athletes around the NFL who feel the same way.  Best of luck to Michael Sam.