Ryan Clark concerned about how players should interact with Michael Sam

Michael-Sam-MissouriThere is a difference between expressing an honest opinion about a controversial topic and being discriminatory or insensitive. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark expressed concern on Monday over the prospect of Michael Sam playing in the NFL, but he did it without being homophobic.

Sam, an All-American defensive end at Missouri, came out publicly as gay on Sunday. He was originally projected to be drafted somewhere in the middle rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft, though it is unclear if his revelation will affect his draft stock. Clark — and I’m sure many others — is wondering if having an openly gay teammate will affect the locker room dynamic.

“You want to know how you can behave around this person,” he said on SportsCenter, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “Anyone who has been in a football locker room knows that there’s a lot of jokes, a lot of ribbing. We’ll talk about anything. If a guy is fat. If a guy is ugly. If a guy’s significant other is not attractive. These are things you josh each other about and you talk with each other about.

“In what ways can you talk to him? In what ways can you involve him in your conversations? What are the things you can do and say around him that won’t make him uncomfortable? That won’t make him feel that he’s being ostracized? Or that won’t make him feel like he’s being harassed or quote, unquote bullied?”

First of all, Sam would have one very significant thing in common with his teammates — they’re all football players. Sam has been around locker room banter his entire life and all indications are that his teammates at Missouri held the utmost respect for him. We know football players talk about women, but Sam would not automatically feel uncomfortable with that.

The fact that Sam is gay doesn’t mean his teammates can’t give him a hard time. There’s a difference between being hateful and needling someone. Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman is the only deaf player in Seattle’s locker room, and I doubt his teammates feel uncomfortable interacting with him.

Would it require some adjusting? Most likely, and some players have already indicated that having a gay teammate could change locker room culture. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sam won’t be the last football player to reveal he is gay. The time to start getting used to it is now.

Around The Web

  • wsm1969

    His sexual preference is his own business but If I were a player in the locker room I would feel violated with a homosexual man looking at me with the possibility of him becoming aroused. Very uncomfortable. It would be no different than putting a man in a woman’s locker room, every woman in there would feel violated. Why doesn’t the liberal media address this issue and the rights of a straight person to feel comfortable in a locker room when they are undressed.. This is a HUGE issue and I think straight people need rights too when addressing this.

  • Khyree Bradford

    The problem with us guys is that we are overly narcissistic, you make the assumption that he would be interested in any of his team mates to begin with. We tend to think that anyone that looks at us, wants to get the business. Why feel violated if he did find you attractive, take it as a compliment that both sexes ” could possibly” find you attractive and keep it moving.

    I completely understand the need to feel comfortable around anyone, but man up. If you would feel uncomfortable, ask him point blank if he wanted to do you and if he says keep it moving.

  • Bruce Hake

    Couldn’t agree with the first comment more! Why should the straight players be subjected to being in situations where they have to shower or dress in front of someone that is attracted to men.You can’t tell me there isn’t one man that he would be attracted to out of the other 52. I personally think he should have his own facility for showering. These are the ramifications of integrating gay athletes with straight athletes. The gay agenda doesn’t want to address these issues and if someone would express my opinion in the locker room, he would be called a homo phone or bigot. So they should just shut up to avoid the onslaught of the rainbow warriors! How many players are announcing they are straight? Wish the gay agenda would take their foot off the gas peddle it’s getting to be a bit annoying! The gays are doing everything to gain acceptance in America, but they will never get God’s acceptance!

  • sean mcmartin

    Thank you Bruce. It is so true. When I go to my church every sunday there are 250 others who share my beliefs. All these pro-homo opinions can do and say whatever they want..god will never accept them. And I will never change my beliefs. No matter what they label me as..Gay agenda doesn’t mean anything to me. the homosexuals are not a race or creed or color..I do however believe every american has rights and therefore homos should start a gay football league of their own. and if your pro gay watch it and enjoy it.

  • Dusty

    Do they still have a Klan chapter in your town too?

  • Dusty

    How about this, Ryan… If you wouldn’t like a white guy calling you the N-word or making racist jokes, then don’t call people homophobic slurs or make gay jokes. It’s really not that hard. In all honesty, he’s probably cool with the jokes if he knows you and your intent, but until then it shouldn’t be that hard to be respectful.

  • Dusty

    Gay men have spent every bit as much time showering and changing in locker rooms as you have, and they’ve done it while you were there. Maybe you can just let go of this absurd idea that gay men are sexual predators rather than segregate people because they were born a little different than you.

  • brianshannon

    Here is a thought…what does it matter? Why does his or any other persons choice of what they like have to enter into the equation? I mean seriously our culture is so consumed with who is sleeping with who…what does it matter? The bottom line is people are going to look at this kid and say, can he play? If the answer is yes then he’ll get picked…..if it’s no, he won’t. He doesn’t have any off the field baggage coming in….he hasn’t been arrested so again if he can play, he’ll play. I don’t care who is dating who or what sex with any athlete. Just play. It has no barring on the game what so ever. I get that some will say it’s a landmark thing that he is able to safely come out and tell the world what he is. Yeah as if he is the first (only) black gay man in the NFL. Please…and as for players. They have known in the past when there has been a gay guy in their locker room….they have dealt with it before. It isn’t going to make them any more uncomfortable than before. I mean seriously there are racists guys in the locker rooms right now and they are tolerating blacks/whites/asians/Indians who ever they dislike right now. Not any different in the level of comfort to me. The media has blown this thing up way more than it needed to.

  • Chandra Vice

    You treat him like a normal human being, because that’s EXACTLY WHAT HE IS. That’s not hard.

  • Murphmeister

    Hooray for the day, let’s all be gay. Since it is now de rigueur, indeed, even fashionable to be gay, will more and more come out to show how fashionable they are? Like all fashions, this too will pass. In the meanwhile, just don’t drop the soap.
    Say, since it’s okay to be a gay football player, does that mean it’s okay to play football. Does that also mean it’s okay for gays to get repeat concussions? If so, does that mean that football is okay because it’s gay? What about all those gay blades in hockey?

  • mnelson52

    He didn’t say they were predators. He said they were showering with their sexual preference and straight guys are not allowed to. You seem to think it’s ok just because he’s always done it. Just because a person does something their whole life doesn’t make it right, and just because you think it’s ok doesn’t mean everyone else should. You have a right to think and feel what you want but so do the people in the locker room. If the NFL is going to force this on them because they think it’s what society wants, they should build an extra locker room so everyone has a choice of which they would rather use. That way no one has to be uncomfortable. I have some gay friends, and that is their choice, but that doesn’t mean I would be comfortable showering with them. Also they our in the shower with some of the best fit bodies in the world. Would you not have things going through your mind if you were showering with some of the best female bodies in the world? Unless you are gay also, you would.

  • Dusty

    We separate people by gender not attraction, which is in large part due to power structures in society. Women often don’t feel comfortable fully dressed in a gym. They’re always a potential victim of assault. You’re a guy. Just take a shower and get dressed. There’s nothing any of us haven’t seen, and no one, particularly those there for work, is wandering around trying to catch a peek at you.

  • Dusty

    Exactly.. Remember when all those people were dying their skin color to be black? That fad passed too. Now no one is black. Btw… You’re a moron.

  • Murphmeister

    Yes, I do. They called it and still it tanning and it was so fashionable to slather on some Coppertone and roast in the sun that a whole industry developed. Then came an epidemic of skin cancer and no one wanted to be black and leathery. Thanks for reminding me, Fusty.