On February 9, NFL draft prospect Michael Sam told Chris Connelly of ESPN.com "I am an openly, proud gay man." NFL teams, executives, players, fans and media proclaimed public support for Sam. On February 14, the NFL released the findings of its commissioned independent investigation into the bullying and harassment claims of Miami Dolphins left tackle Jonathan Martin. According to the report from investigator Ted Wells, he and his staff found plenty of bullying and harassment, as well as rampant racism, sexism, misogyny and, yes—homophobia. The duality of the NFL has never been more plain, and the tension between its past and future never been more painful. The NFL used to be an ugly, brutal spectacle akin to bare-knuckle boxing or the early days of MMA. Now it's a global enterprise raking in over $10 billion a year. Commissioner Roger Goodell earned $44.2 million in compensation in 2012, per ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, because he's done a fantastic job of expanding the NFL's mindshare among non-traditional fans. Women, children, non-NFL cities and even other countries have been the target of extended marketing and branding campaigns. How will all these newly minted fans react if Sam faces the same bullying, slurs and harassment Martin did?
How Can Gay NFL Prospect Michael Sam Fit into Homophobic Locker-Room Culture?
Bleacher Report | Feb 16