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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Donte’ Stallworth gives great take on Michael Sam situation

Michael Sam MissouriFormer NFL wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth took to Twitter on Monday to share his thoughts on the Michael Sam situation. Since Sam decided to publicly come out as gay on Sunday night, many have questioned whether his open homosexuality would create a distraction for NFL teams or a problem in the locker room.

On Monday, Herm Edwards and his fellow ESPN analysts debated whether general managers, owners and coaches would be able to handle the media attention that might come with drafting Sam. Stallworth had a longwinded response in a series of Tweets that is worth reading.

“If any NFL team can’t ‘handle the media coverage’ of drafting Sam, then your team is already a loser on the field … let me tell you why,” he wrote. “There are a multitude of issues that can arise in the long duration of an NFL season … some on the field, some off the field. You won’t have any idea what that on the field/off the field situation is until it’s already upon you and the entire organization, which means that with drafting Michael Sam, you get a jump start on controlling the ‘media coverage’ right from the onset.

“If an organization is inept to the magnitude of not being able to control things with prior knowledge, how will you handle the unexpected? Case Study 1: The Miami Dolphins and the bullying scandal … players talked more about THAT than they did football… for weeks! During that time I questioned (tweeted) why the Dolphins players were talking more about the scandal than their next opponent. Since the bullying story broke, the Dolphins finished the season 4-4 (with) playoff hopes still alive, got spanked by division (opponent) Jets, 20-7.

“Case Study 2: The New England Patriots and Aaron Hernandez AND Tim Tebow situations. Beyond the state of shock I endured after the revelations of Hernandez, I knew that if ANY organization could handle this, it was the Pats. This all happened right before training camp where players are supposed to come in (with) clear minds in preparation for a long, rigorous season. Not only were there questions about Aaron, but also about the health of Gronkowski and how those two combined affected the team as a whole.

“Aaron is still awaiting trial and Gronk played in only 7 games this season…but yet the Pats seemed to avoid those ‘distractions’ altogether. Despite many season ending injuries to key pieces, the Pats finished 12-4 and lost to the Broncos in the AFC title with … ZERO distractions. Not to mention the whole Tebow signing and (alleged subsequent) distraction wasn’t even a blip on most radars. Why? Because Mr. Kraft and Bill Belichick would not allow ANY of that to be a ‘distraction’ to ANYONE in the entire organization.

“In my 10 years as an NFL player, I’ve played for 6 different teams and have been in every kind of locker room. Vet, young, mature, immature … The leaders of an NFL organization AND the locker room better be able to handle adversity that is certain to emerge during a long NFL season. In my experience, if your organization can’t ‘handle media coverage’, they will suck on the field anyway … but hey, there’s always 2015.”

We know that was a lot to read, but it was so well-said that we didn’t want to cut anything out. Stallworth was spot-on with his assessment. If NFL teams can overcome arrests and major injuries (all of which the media peppers them with questions about), a gay teammate should be a non-issue. Refuse to talk about it from day one and the media will get bored. Just ask Manti Te’o.



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