Michael Sam will be a role model

Remember when Te'o was the biggest story in sports? Remember when we thought he would be some major distraction for the team that drafted him? No one cares about Manti Te'o. Most people don't even know where he plays (San Diego) or how he performed last season (average). If his teammates harassed him about Lennay Kekua, we certainly didn't hear about it.

It's a quarterback league. Sam isn't loud and boastful. He's not Richard Sherman. Sam is going to fade into the background much the same way Jeremy Lin became a nonstory in the NBA after momentarily sparking Linsanity.

Sam will be a beast on special teams and an effective third-down pass-rusher. He'll get along with his teammates and opponents. He'll energize the gay football fan base in the city where he plays and across the country.

His most important contribution will be his subtle and important impact off the field. He's going to give gay teenage boys a role model, a hero, a boost to their self-esteem. Sam will further redefine how the rest of us perceive gay men's masculinity. All of this is critical. Sam can push the conversation about gay boys forward. He can give parents, teachers and coaches a talking point to discuss the importance of tolerance. Bullying of gay children is a vast problem in our schools. It contributes to their high suicide-attempt rate.

That's why it's significant that Sam shared his story. The cool kids at Missouri accepted Sam for who he is. The same is going to happen in the NFL.

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