Could the Ravens draft Michael Sam this May?

Michael Sam could become the first openly gay player on an NFL roster. - Dilip Vishwanat

If he's the best player on their board at a particular pick, they should.

Michael Sam was generally seen as a draftable third-to-sixth round player before Sunday's announcement that he's a gay man.

For some teams, it's possible this may be enough to move him back or completely off their board. As this Peter King column points out, some locker rooms haven't caught up with modern society. Around the web, it's been seen that the right team with the right structure will have to take Sam, to ensure his presence isn't an issue — or a "distraction" as NFL clubs like to say.

Could the Ravens be one of those teams that wouldn't worry about Sam's personal life now that it's out in the open? The Ravens always stress that they'll take the best player available when it's time. Granted, the need for an outside linebacker in a 3-4, a position Sam might not even be suited for, isn't apparent in this draft. But the Ravens have been in favor of adding quality depth to positions when the opportunity is there.

In a Sports Illustrated article posted Sunday night, one former NFL general manager indicated the Ravens would be among a few teams that could handle the media onslaught that would come with selecting a suddenly high-profile player in Sam.

"The former general manager said that it would take an NFL franchise with a strong owner, savvy general manager and veteran coach to make drafting Sam work," SI writers Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans wrote. "He rattled off franchises like Pittsburgh, Green Bay, San Francisco, Baltimore and Indianapolis as potential destinations. The former general manager added that a team with a rookie head coach would not be an ideal landing spot."

You'd like to think the Ravens would be one of those teams that could handle this kind of issue. In reality, it's not a big deal. The notion a gay man could disrupt 52 other players plus a practice squad is predicated on fear and ignorance, and is simply an outdated point of view. Those, like Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, that buy into that notion are living in a closed-minded world view of ignorance and insecurity.

If the player can play, he should play. If he's the best player on a team's board at a particular pick, that team should pick him. Football is a game after all. Teams need 53 of the best players available to choose from on Sundays so they can be in the best possible position to win.

Some organizations may not want the attention that comes with employing the first openly gay player in NFL history. They may prefer to avoid this for selfish inclinations. And shame on them for being shortsighted. Whether the Ravens were interested in Sam before or after the announcement — which it certainly seems they were, per WNST's Glenn Clark — hopefully they'd be one of the teams that would be willing to be on the right side of history.




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