GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If the Green Bay Packers find Michael Sam to be a productive player and a good teammate, then the team would have no doubts about drafting the defensive lineman from Missouri who said Sunday that he is gay.
That’s their criteria for any player, and Sam’s case appears to be no different.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy and at least one of his assistant coaches echoed that sentiment on Monday.
“I think you definitely have to feel he’s a courageous young man, but my understanding is that he’s a talented player,” McCarthy said during a session with reporters at which he introduced the new members of his coaching staff. “We’ve always, from day one, talked about our program and about our culture.
"[General manager] Ted [Thompson] and [the scouts] are going through the draft process right now, and at the end of the day it comes down to good football players. Any player that can come here and be a good teammate, follow the rules of our program which is one, be respectful and produce on the football field, we’ve got room for that guy.”
Former NFL player Alex Van Pelt, who was promoted from Packers running backs coach to quarterbacks coach last week, also called Sam’s decision “courageous.”
“If anybody can come in and help us win games and be successful -- black, white, yellow, straight, gay -- I don’t think it matters,” Van Pelt said. “As long as you’re a good person and you’re respectful in the locker room to each other, then you can help us win on Sundays.”
Sam was an All-American defensive lineman at Missouri and the Associated Press SEC Defensive Player of the Year last season, when he had 11.5 sacks. He could project to an outside linebacker in the Packers’ 3-4 defensive scheme.