Many teams put out the message right away on Monday that they would draft Michael Sam if he can help them win.
Privately, who knows what teams really think about Sam, the Missouri defensive end who announced Sunday he is gay. But here's why Sam's transition to the NFL will probably be easier than many speculated for the NFL's first openly gay player: There will be an incredible effort by the league and its teams to make it so.
The NFL put out a supportive statement on Sunday night, and teams are following up with a similar message that Sam will be welcomed by them.
"Any player who can come here and be a good teammate and follow the rules of our program, which is one be respectful and produce on the football field, we have room for that guy," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft told the Boston Herald that he and coach Bill Belichick haven't discussed Sam specifically, but they both share the same attitude on any player.
“We’re about winning,” Kraft said. “And anyone who can come in here and help us win, I personally don’t care what their ethnic background is, their racial background, the gender preference. If they can help us win, and they’re about team first, then I’m happy to have him here.”
Giants co-owner Steve Tisch, via the New York Daily News, said Sam's announcement "will not affect his position on our draft board."
"Michael Sam is a gifted athlete and a courageous man," Tisch said, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News. "I hope any NFL team would not hesitate to draft Michael if he is right for their team. Our game is the ultimate team game, and we often talk about how a team is a family. Regardless of where you are from, what your religious beliefs are, what your sexual orientation is, if you are good enough to be on the team, you are part of the family.”
The Lions were another team that publicly stated that all that would matter to them in the pre-draft evaluation is how Sam could help them on the field.
"As an organization and football team, the Lions place the highest priority on inclusiveness and diversity," Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand said, according to a series of tweets from the Detroit News' Chris McCosky. "We applaud Michael Sam for his courage and proactive approach. We will evaluate him, like every player, based solely on his ability to help the Lions win football games."
Other teams also supported Sam on Monday. Surely, they'll follow that up with positive comments at the scouting combine next week. The entire league seems intent on making sure that Sam's transition to the NFL is as smooth as possible.