The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Pro Sports

February 22, 2014

Sam attempting to focus on football

INDIANAPOLIS — Michael Sam somehow managed to avoid the media storm his coming out announcement created for the past few weeks.

On Saturday afternoon, however, the Missouri defensive end stared right into the heart of it.

Sam could become the first openly gay player in the NFL during May's draft, and that possibility drew the largest media crowd of the week to his podium at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Southeastern Conference's co-defensive player of the year spoke for about 13 minutes and made it clear he doesn't see his sexual orientation as an obstacle to his career.

"I've been in locker rooms where all kinds of slurs have been said, and I don't think anyone means it," Sam said. "I think (some are) a little naive and uneducated, but as time goes on everyone will adapt."

The real questions now are about how well Sam's game will adapt at the professional level.

He compiled 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in the nation's most competitive college football conference last year. But at 6-foot-2 and 261 pounds, he's seen as something of a "tweener" in the pros — a player who might not be big enough to play defensive end or athletic enough to play outside linebacker.

Ultimately, that's the notion he must disprove at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"I'm a pass rusher," Sam said. "If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I'm going to get the quarterback. This league is a passing league, I'd like to believe in myself as a good pass rusher."

Indianapolis Colts star Robert Mathis faced similar questions about his size coming out of college. He compensated with an outstanding burst off the snap, using his speed to disrupt offensive gameplans.

Mathis, in fact, could provide a professional role model for Sam. He made the transition from 4-3 defensive end under Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell to 3-4 linebacker under Chuck Pagano and had the best season of his 11-year career with 19.5 sacks in 2013.

Text Only
Pro Sports
  • PACERS LEGEND 1.jpg Leonard still believes in the Pacers

    For the past 36 hours, the NBA universe has been buzzing about the decision made by Indiana Pacers' coach Frank Vogel to rest all of his starting five Wednesday in Milwaukee.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tiger Woods has back surgery, will miss the Masters

    Tiger Woods chose surgery to heal his ailing back over a quest for another green jacket, announcing Tuesday that he will miss the Masters for the first time in his career.

    April 1, 2014

  • SPT - HB0325 - Adam Lind swing Momentum swinging in Lind's favor Adam Lind is hitting .386 with one home run and seven RBIs through 15 Grapefruit League games this spring.

    March 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT - HB0322 - Grigson art Grigson happy with offseason additions Though he stopped just short of declaring his shopping spree over, Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson made it clear Friday he's happy with the team's offseason haul.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0318 - Bremer mug George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • George Bremer-2.JPG George Bremer: Irsay's plight not about football

    Jim Irsay has a problem.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_irsaymugshot.jpg Colts owner Jim Irsay arrested

    Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested Sunday night in the northern Indianapolis suburb of Carmel on preliminary charges of driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance, Hamilton County Sheriff's Department Deputy Bryant Orem said.

    March 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0316 - Nicks photo Nicks betting deal with Colts will pay off Hakeem Nicks is betting on himself. The 25-year-old wide receiver with a Super Bowl ring and a long injury history from five years with the New York Giants chose a fresh start in Indianapolis because he believes the pieces are in place for the franchise to make a long postseason run.

    March 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0315 - Nicks art Colts add WR Nicks on one-year deal The Indianapolis Colts wide receiver corps was severely depleted in the second half of the 2013 season. On Friday, the franchise bought an insurance policy for this fall.

    March 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPT - HB0314 - Jones art Colts DL Jones comes from fighting family If nothing else, Arthur Jones is up for a fight. Most older brothers are confident they can best their younger siblings. But it jumps to another level when the younger brother is UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones.

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

Photographer’s pick
AP Video
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin