Red Zone

Michael Sam says you’ll need a DeLorean to keep gay athletes out of locker rooms

Updated: 2014-02-28T17:41:25Z

By TEREZ A. PAYLOR

The Kansas City Star

— Missouri defensive end Michael Sam isn’t too happy with lobbyist Jack Burkman.

According to The Hill newspaper, Burkman said Monday that he’s preparing legislation to ban gay players from the NFL.

On Tuesday, Sam responded on Twitter, posting: “Jack Burkman is going to need a Delorian, not some bogus bill, if he wants to prevent gay athletes from being in the locker room.”

Sam, of course, was referring to the DeLorean car that was turned into a time machine and transported Michael J. Fox’s character in the “Back to the Future” movies.

Burkman told The Hill that he came up with the idea after Sam, who finished the NFL Combine on Monday, revealed this month that he is gay.

“We are losing our decency as a nation,” Burkman said in a statement to the newspaper, which focuses on Congress. “Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?

“If the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it.”

As expected, several players who played with Sam had nothing but positive things to say during the combine about the way Sam was treated in the locker room. Sam told his teammates he was gay before the season, but it didn’t become public knowledge until Sam released the news well after Missouri finished 12-2, reaching the Southeastern Conference championship game.

“Coach (Gary) Pinkel really preaches family and stuff like trust and accountability,” offensive tackle Justin Britt said. “It wasn’t our place to tell people his story. It was our place to protect his story.”

Cornerback E.J. Gaines agreed.

“He got a lot of respect, I would say, for something like that,” Gaines said. “That’s family in the locker room, so it wasn’t a big deal at all.”

Defensive end Kony Ealy said Sam, who had a disappointing combine workout and is projected to be a mid- to late-round pick, was a joy to be around this season.

“He’s a loving brother, he’s caring to the team,” Ealy said. “He’s always singing, which gets on my nerves sometimes, but other than that, he’s just fun to be around, fun to play with. I know at the end of the day he’s gonna do his job. No other guy I’d rather go to war with.”

Burkman’s efforts might be an indication of the kind of obstacles that stand in Sam’s way, but Ealy is confident his former teammate has the necessary skill set to handle the attention and scrutiny.

“He’s not a college player anymore, he’s a professional and I expect him to handle it no other way, just go in there and do his job and make plays,” Ealy said.

“Despite what you say about him, it’s not gonna matter. He’s still gonna go out there and do his job. Only time he doesn’t play under control is when he’s tackling the other quarterback or running back. He gets along with everybody on the team.”

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.

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