"With the 25th selection in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select...Michael Sam, defensive lineman, University of Missouri."
It could happen. In fact, if I was Michael Sam, I might be hoping to heat those words this May at Radio City Music Hall in New York.
On Sunday, Sam told the world that he intends to become the first openly gay player in the NFL. Good for him. It took a lot of courage to come out like that, and I can't imagine how hard it was for Sam to tell his Missouri teammates during a team meeting prior to his last college football season.
Why would the Chargers be a good fit for Michael Sam? Look no further than Manti Te'o for the answer. Gay people are quite common in this country. Becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL would seem to be much less of a story than becoming the first NFL player with a major fake dead girlfriend catfishing scandal that was one of the biggest media stories in the country for weeks and weeks.
When Te'o arrived in San Diego, the national media came with him, and for a few weeks, he and his teammates were subjected to the same questions about how Te'o was fitting into his new NFL locker room. Eventually, though, the national media went away, and all that remained was a group of local reporters (myself included) who were bored to death of a tired story.
If Michael Sam does come to San Diego, it will likely play out the same way. Once he and the team gets through the initial wave of attention, the only thing that will matter is the football. By the end of the season, Te'o production on the field (or lack of production) was a much bigger story than a fake girlfriend scandal from 12 months ago.
Perhaps the situation with Te'o would have turned out differently had he be drafted by the Jets, and had to deal with their neverending swarm of media. San Diego turned out to be a great spot for Te'o, and could also be a place where Michael Sam thrives...if the Chargers decide to give him a chance.