AFC South: Michael Sam

INDIANAPOLIS -- To no surprise, Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam was the center of attention during the media portion of the NFL scouting combine on Saturday.

Sam spent a significant amount of time answering questions about his sexual orientation. He publicly acknowledged that he is gay two weeks ago.

Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Sam’s sexual orientation would not be a problem inside their locker room.

“I love the environment we’ve created, the culture we’ve created,” Pagano said. “I think we have an outstanding locker room. The Colts never have and never will discriminate based on sexual orientation. We look at the player. We’ll evaluate him just like we evaluate everybody else. If he can help our team and help us win football games, he’ll be more than welcome.”

Pagano’s comments back up what many of his players said two weeks ago: The Colts treat each other like brothers by having a family-type atmosphere inside their locker room.

“Love is love to me,” punter Pat McAfee said Feb. 9. “As long as folks are happy, I'm happy. There are a lot of bigger issues in the world, and happiness and love are things we shouldn't be restricting.”

Would the Titans draft Michael Sam?

February, 10, 2014
Feb 10
10:56
AM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The question of the day is about Missouri’s Michael Sam, who is preparing for the combine after publicly sharing that he is gay.

He’s a defensive end who played quite well at Missouri, where he was SEC Defensive Player of the Year along with Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Aside from how he grades out as a draft prospect, will teams take into consideration that he will be a big news story -- as the first openly gay NFL player -- and let it influence if and when they’d draft him?

Odds are some teams will let it be a factor.

Would the Titans?

General manager Ruston Webster is an upstanding guy who’s well-connected and well-respected around the league. I think Webster and his scouts will evaluate Sam as they would any other player. If he’s the top-rated player on Tennessee’s board at a time when the Titans feel they need a defensive end, I don’t think they’d pass because he’d bring attention with him.

But reports from the Senior Bowl I’ve read said he didn’t look very comfortable playing in space as an outside linebacker. The Titans are going to be a hybrid front, not the traditional 4-3 they’ve been for their entire time in Tennessee.

If Sam is not a football fit, the Titans won’t be a team that really faces the question.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Pat McAfee used to be one of those close-minded people. He had his own opinions and was very judgmental about gay people.

Then the Indianapolis Colts punter met several gay people and his thoughts completely changed.

“(I) just realized how stupid I was being,” McAfee said in a text to ESPN.com on Sunday night. “They are just like me. Just happen to be attracted to people of the same sex. Love is love to me. As long as folks are happy, I'm happy. There are a lot of bigger issues in the world, and happiness and love are things we shouldn't be restricting.”

That's why it's not surprising that McAfee, a strong believer in gay rights, went to Twitter to support Michael Sam, the All-American defensive lineman from Missouri, who said he is gay in an interview on ESPN's “Outside the Lines” on Sunday.

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