- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Rex Ryan believes his locker room would have no problem accepting an openly gay football player.
"I think he’d be welcome," said the New York Jets' coach Thursday at the NFL scouting combine, referring to Michael Sam, of course. "I don’t think he’d be any different than any other player we have. One thing I know for sure: You’re going to have 53 different players. They’re all different -- different religious beliefs, what they look like, height, weight, married, single.
"Everybody is different," Ryan continued. "The main thing we talk about is respect in our locker room. Even though everybody is different, it’s a respect thing. If a young man is good football player and a good teammate, that’s all we ask. He’d fit in just like the rest of our guys."
Later, in an interview with ESPN New York 98.7, Ryan said Sam "wouldn't be a problem in our room. I'm sure he'd fit right in." He added that he'd be "disappointed" if his locker room didn't embrace the former Missouri defensive end.
General manager John Idzik, addressing reporters at the combine, echoed Ryan's remarks. This was the organization's first public comment on Sam, who came out recently and could be the first openly gay player in the NFL.
Ryan declined to say if Sam would be a scheme fit for the Jets, saying he hasn't watched any tape of him. A shade under 6-2, the 255-pound Sam is considered a tweener -- too small to play defensive end, but not athletic enough to play linebacker. He's projected as a middle-round draft pick.