One of the most ridiculous reasons given when arguing against a team signing Michael Sam is that he is a distraction, because it’s pretty obvious that if a team is distracted by a player’s sexual orientation and the media coverage of it, then they are doomed to fail. Former New England Patriots wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth said it best on Twitter, bringing up examples of how the Patriots fought through injuries, scrutiny, and a murderer to avoid the media fire around them. If you are distracted by the media or have a team full of bigots that lacks chemistry, then those fundamental problems will haunt you. As Stallworth notes, the Miami Dolphins are a great “bad” example of this.
It looks like the St. Louis Rams have an open, winning culture, because their team isn’t distracted easily. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Mark Craig in a conference call that Sam wasn’t anything resembling a distraction. He said, “It wasn’t a distraction at all. On draft day, obviously, there was a lot going on. But [he] was just another guy, just another player. There may be some attention given if someone gives him an opportunity. But beyond that … I heard [signing] with the Cowboys was a possibility. If he does, then he’ll be treated, after things settle, no different than any other practice squad player. ”
Michael Sam has indeed signed with the Dallas Cowboys practice squad today, and while there is plenty of room for media coverage, the Cowboys aren’t making any special announcements for his signing. Like the Rams, they are going to treat him as any other player, because he’s a regular practice squad guy just trying to make it. While it’s important for the media to cover him because of the ground-breaking nature of him playing in this league, it’s important for teams to be able to understand why he is being covered and to do their best to treat him like any other player; that’s exactly what’s happening anyway.