- Michael C. Wright, ESPN Staff Writer
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Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery expressed “tremendous respect” for Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, an All-American and SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, who on Sunday revealed he is gay.
Speaking to Sam during the pre-draft evaluation process, Emery said, “Michael stated with great poise and confidence who he is as a person and football player,” and the general manager respects “the way he conveyed his thoughts and the courage it took to state them publicly.” Most importantly, Emery said the team’s evaluation of Sam will be based solely on his ability to help the Bears win football games.
Sam earned SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 for a performance that included 10.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. Considered somewhat of a tweener, Sam is projected by many analysts to be drafted in the mid-rounds, and he doesn't appear to be an ideal fit for Chicago's 4-3 system. The Bears took a first-round flier in 2012 on another tweener, Shea McClellin, and are already considering a position switch for him after his largely ineffective performances during a two-year stint at defensive end.
“Michael stated this, and I agree with his thoughts: It is about his skill set as a football player to add positively to a team’s goals, and that’s how he will be evaluated,” Emery said. “Each and every player in the NFL is a unique individual, as we all are in life. We all ultimately gain respect in our jobs by how well we perform at our chosen profession, and if the level in which we perform adds positively to the collective process.”
Sam receives another opportunity to interview with the league’s 32 teams in between workouts at the NFL combine from Feb. 19-25 in Indianapolis.