Kraft: Pats would welcome gay player

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Monday he would welcome an openly gay player on his team if the coaching staff thought he would help the team on the field.

“We’re about winning,” Kraft told the Boston Herald. “And anyone who can come in here and help us win, I personally don’t care what their ethnic background is, their racial background, the gender preference. If they can help us win, and they’re about team first, then I’m happy to have him here.”

Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam on Sunday told ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” that he was gay. The All-American is eligible for the NFL draft and is projected to be picked in the middle-to-late rounds of May’s draft. Assuming he is taken, he could become the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Kraft said he had not spoken with Bill Belichick specifically about Sam, but said the coach knows where he stands on the possibility.

“He knows that I would encourage him if [Sam] can help us win,” Kraft told the Herald. “He and I have discussed this in the past. Anyone who can help us win.”

Kraft thinks the Patriots’ locker room would be a supportive environment for an openly gay player.

“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.”

The Patriots’ owner pointed out that Sam came out to his Missouri teammates before the season and pointed to the Tigers’ 12-2 record as proof that having a gay player would not negatively impact a team.

“He was co-defensive player of the year in the SEC,” Kraft told the Herald. “And that was after full disclosure. And that makes me happy.”