A day after the NFL released a statement supporting Michael Sam promptly after he came out as gay, representatives from several of league's teams are echoing the league's official statement of support. The Giants, Browns, Patriots, Eagles, and Packers are some of the teams who have said they would have no issue accepting Sam as a part of their organization.
The Browns emailed a statement to the media late Monday night, attributed to owner Jimmy Haslam, that was largely a message of openness.
"Absolutely we would welcome Michael Sam to the Cleveland Browns organization if he can help us win games and is the right football player for this team," said Haslam. "We are intent on creating an environment that is supportive, accepting and respectful of individual rights and differences."
The Giants owners released similar statements, with both John Mara and Steve Tisch expressing support for Sam. Here's Mara, who specifically addressed the issue of his draft prospects in light of his coming out:
"Our sport, our game, is the ultimate meritocracy. You earn your way with your ability. As Patrick Burke and Wade Davis constantly remind all of us, regardless of who you are, what your background is and what your personal or sexual orientation is, if you can play, you can play. Michael's announcement will not affect his position on our draft board."
A spokesman for the Giants rivals in Philadelphia was succinct to the Inquirer's Mike Sielski, asking, "Why would it change anything?"
In Green Bay, it was not an ownership or front office representative who spoke on the issue, but head coach Mike McCarthy. The Packers coach toed much of the same line as the Browns and Giants owners, stressing talent and ability on the field (via Green Bay Press Gazette):
"We always from Day 1 talked about our program, about our culture. Ted is going through the draft process right now and at the end of the day it comes down to good football players. Any player who can come here and be a good teammate and follow the rules of our program, which is one be respectful and produce on the football field, we have room for that guy."
Both Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick, the decision makers of the league's most successful franchise over the last 15 years, also made public statements. Here's Belichick on Sam and the draft evaluation process:
"We evaluate all the players, including Michael Sam, based on the totality of who they are and who can best contribute to our team and organization, regardless of the matters being discussed today. They all have strengths, they all have weaknesses and no two human beings are identical. Our scouting staff has performed extensive work on Michael, both this season and going back throughout his career. That work will continue through the draft process this spring."
Kraft, speaking to the Boston Herald, said Sam's individual success and Mizzou's team success last year in the SEC after he came out to his college teammates made the Pats owner "happy." Kraft also went a bit further than some of the owners, telling the Herald that he thought the Patriots would be a good spot for Sam (via Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald)
"If a player were gay and came into this locker room, it would be the most supportive system," he said. "He'd gain strength by being in here. And it wouldn't be divisive and he'd make friends for life and they could help him win."
Those are just some of the teams and representatives who have gone on the record in an attempt to demonstrate support and acceptance.
They do not, of course, excuse the various personnel people, who remain anonymous, that repeatedly talked about the negative and "distracting" impact that Sam could have on an NFL locker room. There's obviously a delineation that needs to be made between that set examining draft impact, whether they've told someone in the media anonymously or discussed it internally with their personnel staff, and the public statements of support from the owners and other officials of the aforementioned teams.