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Saturday at the Combine: Michael Sam leaves them with a request

Posted Feb 22, 2014

If Michael Sam had his way, he would be perceived as just a football player, not a gay football player. After the way he handled himself with the media Saturday, that day might come sooner rather than later.


INDIANAPOLIS – Michael Sam stepped to the podium with a request.

“I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player, instead of Michael Sam the gay football player,” the defensive end from Missouri told a mass of media at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday.

Except that Michael Sam the football player became more than Michael Sam the football player when Sam announced two weeks that he was gay, which put him in the media spotlight at the NFL Scouting Combine.

That prompted the obvious question: Why did he decide to come out at this time?

And Sam provided the perfect answer: “I just wanted to get my story out there before anyone else could.”

So what many perceive as a bold move was the only move as Sam viewed the situation. Rather than field an endless series of questions about his lifestyle as one story led to another, he put it out there. But he also understood what was to follow, as evidenced by his opening statement:

“My name is Michael Sam. I play football for the University of Missouri. So you may know, Missouri is the ‘Show Me’ state and you’d think I’d have shown you guys enough these last couple of weeks. But I’m learning with the media, you guys still want to ask your questions and I’ll answer them the best I can.”

Which Sam then proceeded to do. One involved his “Stand With Sam” pride button, and should have told the assembled crowd all they needed to know about Michael Sam the gay football player.

“I hope all you guys ‘Stand With Sam,’ by the way. Please do,” he said. “I went to the (Missouri) basketball game against Tennessee. A very kind lady gave it to me and I gave her a hug and I got a lot of support out there.”

Now, back to that request about seeing him as Michael Sam the football player, period. Sam was an All-American selection last season and also SEC co-defensive player of the year. He had three games with multiple sacks and was a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Award as the best defensive player in the nation.

That is the part of his resume that Sam wants featured at the Combine, especially after his interview session with the media was over and his interviews with NFL teams were just getting started.

ARE THE EYES OF TEXANS UPON JOHNNY MANZIEL?

The Houston Texans hold the first pick in May’s NFL Draft, and reportedly are interested in acquiring a quarterback. Johnny Manziel has an opinion on who that quarterback should be.

YOU DON'T SAY

“Mike Mayock’s the man. He’s the man. I want to prove him right.”

Khalil Mack, with a large grin, when asked about the NFL Network analyst saying he would take the Buffalo linebacker with the No. 1 pick in the draft

“I think it would be extremely cool – a Texas-born guy and raised in Texas and never really left the state,” the Texas A&M QB said during his podium stint. “So for them to have the first pick really means a lot to me.”

As kismet would have it, Manziel was concluding his Q&A session just as Texans coach Bill O’Brien was beginning his at the podium on the other side of the media center at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Offered O’Brien, “We’re always going to do what’s best for the organization. We’re only a month and a half into this process. It takes a long time, it’s not something you develop your thoughts on overnight.”

AND WITH THE 32ND PICK …

The Seahawks hold the 32nd and final pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on May 8 – after not having a first-round pick last year – and Bucky Brooks is projecting that they’ll select Stanford guard David Yankey in his latest mock draft at NFL.com.

Says Brooks: “The presence of a dominant running game sets the table for Russell Wilson and company. Yankey is a powerful run blocker at the point of attack, yet also shows the athleticism to execute pulls and traps on the move.”

STAT DU JOUR: 7-IN-9 DRILL

Since the New England Patriots were the last team to win back-to-back Super Bowls after the 2002 and 2003 seasons, seven teams have won the past nine Super Bowls and none have repeated. Here’s a look at the winners of the past nine NFL title games:

Season Super Bowl champion
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
2006 Indianapolis Colts
2007 New York Giants
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers
2009 New Orleans Saints
2010 Green Bay Packers
2011 New York Giants
2012 Baltimore Ravens
2013 Seattle Seahawks

Brooks, now an NFL analyst for NFL.com and the NFL Network, played five seasons in the league and also was a scout – including a three-year stint with the Seahawks.

ROBERT SALEH MOVING ON

Robert Saleh, a defensive quality control coach with the Seahawks the past three seasons, has joined the Jacksonville Jaguars as their linebackers coach. The Jaguars are coached by Gus Bradley, who was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator from 2009-12.

Saleh was an assistant coach with the Houston Texans for six seasons before joining the Seahawks in 2011. He was the Texans’ linebackers coach in 2009-10.

TACKLING THE DRILLS

Auburn tackle Greg Robinson popped some impressive numbers during his workouts, including a time of 4.92 seconds in the 40-yard dash Saturday and 32 reps in the bench press Friday. While his official time in the 40 wasn’t as fast as the unofficial times of 4.88 and 4.84 seconds, it was plenty fast enough for a 332-pounder with 35-inch arms.

The fastest of the tackles was Michigan’s Taylor Lewan, with a time of 4.87.