Nearly two weeks after the Super Bowl, the NFL is still in the forefront of the sports news. But the usual talks of the upcoming NFL combine and draft is drowned out by the controversies of the Redskins name and the players use of marijuana, along with the announcement that draft prospect Michael Sam is gay.
As the NFL is three months away from their annual NFL College draft, the NFL could be in store for the merging two of their biggest stories together. That’s if the Redskins actually drafted the Co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Sam.
Wouldn’t that be a huge irony? The one team that entire history has been stamped with racism, discrimination, and racial issues could have the first openly gay NFL player. There is the ignorant thought of somebody who is saying, “George Marshall is rolling in his grave at the thought of possibility.”
From a PR standpoint, this could be a huge win for Daniel Snyder and his football organization. Of course in no way would it quiet the chatter of Native Americans offended by the team’s name that is considered a racial slur by so many. But, it could be one thing needed for Snyder and the image that has troubled and followed the franchise since it came to Washington in 1937.
The Redskins have been marred from the start. Marshall, its original owner, was a known bigot. In fact to the point he refused to sign or draft any black players until President John F. Kennedy threaten Marshall with federal sanctions. It was ironic when Doug Williams became the first ever black quarterback to start and win the Super Bowl in 1988 long after Marshall had died.
Having the first openly gay player in NFL history to go along with Williams and the history of the organization would be a huge PR coup. The chatter to change the team’s name won’t disappear but Snyder would certainly gain some points for his courage to do something that so many other teams secretly are afraid to do.
Some team’s front office personnel are concerned with the distraction that initially could come with Sam being in their locker room. It’s a legitimate concern, but the Redskins are no strangers to distractions. You only have to look back to the debacle that happened last season with quarterback Robert Griffin III coming back from major knee surgery to see that. Certainly, that could be all the reason why the Redskins would pass on Sam in the draft. They don’t need another year of distractions.
A new coach, new attitude could mean the Redskins needing to block out anything that will prevent them from getting focused back on football. So, taking Sam off the board could be a solution. It’s already going to be a problem with all the attention that would come with Griffin and the post-Mike Shanahan era.
From a football standpoint the Redskins may have the need for depth at outside linebacker, a position that is projected for Sam. The Redskins have a need for pass rushers, and with their premier quarterback chaser Brian Orakpo being an unrestricted free agent this offseason, the need may be even greater.
No matter what Orakpo chooses, the fact is the Redskins don’t have a first round pick with a list of needs that go beyond a pass rusher. That alone could diminish the chances of Sam coming to Washington. Besides, Sam is rated between 15-17 among 3-4 outside linebackers depending on whose scout board you look at. The Redskins have possibly 14-16 players that generally will be higher on their board at the position. With the need for a wide receiver, offensive line help, both safety positions, and at least one cornerback there may not be an opportunity to draft Sam.
Still, it’s an interesting thought that came to mind. What you think?
Would you welcome the idea of your beloved Redskins drafting Sam?