INDIANAPOLIS - Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium was Michael Sam Day.
The media that crowded around Sam was a larger group than the one for quarterback Johnny Manziel on Friday and equal in size to Manti Te'o last year. For many, it was standing room only.
At the podium, Sam said many of the things he's already said about being the first openly gay NFL Draft prospect. Wearing a colorful "Stand with Sam" button on his credential lanyard, Sam spent more than 12 minutes mostly discussing his choice to come out publicly two weeks ago. He seemed even more excited to talk about himself as a football player.
The Missouri defensive end explained his specialization on the field – rushing the passer. But the press seemed more content to ask him about his lifestyle and journey.
"I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player, instead of Michael Sam the gay football player," he said.
Several players in attendance have been asked about Sam, as have head coaches and general managers. Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine, who also seems more interested in what Sam can do on the field.
"I applaud what he did," Pettine said. "As many coaches have said, this is a results business. Can Michael Sam help us win? If he can, there’s a good chance he’ll be a part of our football team."
What happens to Sam off the field and in the locker room was brought up the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
"If someone wants to call me a name," he said, "I will have a conversation with that guy and hopefully it won’t lead to nothing else."
Inside Khalil Mack's motivation
For a linebacker, 46 is a strange number. That's the one Buffalo's Khalil Mack adorned for four seasons while setting an NCAA record in forced fumbles and tying the tackles for loss mark. For Mack, No. 46 was used as motivation. He wore it because that's how the NCAA Football game rated him as a freshman.
"The NCAA game, the first one that I was on, I was rated a 46 with 37 speed. It was a slap in the face," Mack said. "I knew deep down in my heart I was better than a 46. It just so happened I was already No. 46, so I just kept the number."
Getting animated with Dominique Easley
Dominique Easley doesn't like watching football. That's not to say he doesn't like playing football. He just doesn't like watching it.
The Florida defensive tackle said on Friday that he's never watched a game all the way through.
"Not start to finish," Easley said. "I might change it to a cartoon or something."
Forget Easley's super fast get-off at the line of scrimmage (an area where he believes he wins). Forget coming back from another torn ACL (he's running, but not doing lateral movements). Or that he's having his own pro day (sometime in late April).
The pressing issue is cartoons. What is the favorite of a 288-pound sack artist?
"Used to be Rocket Power. Now it's the Fairly OddParents."
The Fairly OddParents? Stock down.
Browns coach talks QBs
It's pretty obvious the Cleveland Browns will take a quarterback at some point in the 2014 NFL Draft. Which one exactly is up for debate, whether it's Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel or someone else.
"They come in all shapes and sizes," Pettine said. "We're looking for one that maximizes our opportunity to win. Even though the quarterback’s a priority, we don’t want to put ourselves in a position where the quarterback has to win the game. I think that’s where some teams make mistakes. Even though it’s the most important position. If you don’t have that guy that you feel, whether it’s Brady or Manning that can take over a game and win it for you."
For Cleveland, finding that quarterback who has to win for them is probably good thing consider the lineage of awfulness the Browns have had at the position. But maybe the Browns it will be more important to find a quarterback who won't lose the game for them.
Quote of the day
On a day filled with countless quotes of note, LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry may have had the best one:
Jarvis Landry: "I fear being average."— Dan Kadar (@MockingTheDraft) February 22, 2014