Fred Toucher weighed in on the Michael Sam discussion on Tuesday, saying that any GM that says the Missouri defensive end isn’t good enough to make it in the NFL is simply making excuses for having a poorly run team.
“I find this to be an absolute copout,” Fred said of executives’ anonymous quotes in MMQB. “He was the SEC defensive player of the year, and he was an All-America. He’s undersized for a defensive end, but there are stars in the league that are as big as he is that play outside linebacker. Stars in the league that are his size.
“He’s certainly good enough to get drafted. Certainly.”
Fred said the Patriots would be the one team that would easily draft Sam if available in the right spot.
“The Patriots would be a perfect place for Michael Sam,” Fred said. “They have an owner who’s Teflon, who’s very important in the league. They have an ability to control their locker room, and they have a head coach that no one is going to mess with.
“People saying this is going to be some massive news story, that this thing is going to erupt, sure, that may be if he plays for a team like the Jets. There, it seems people have the freedom to spout off about whatever they want. A lot of times that’s fun, but maybe things would get out of control and they could let that become a distraction. It would not be a distraction in New England.
“If the Patriots took this kid and he ended up being an effective player, that just shows you how badass your organization is. Because other people are shying away and are too afraid to take on anything controversial, and your organization says if this can play, he’s going to play, and we’re going to win. And if you can get value in a draft because you’re the only one who has the chutzpah to take a guy that’s a leader of an SEC team and just happens to be gay, good for you.”
Fred then read the following quote from an anonymous NFL GM to MMQB: “We talked about it this week. First of all, we don’t think he’s a very good player. The reality is he’s an overrated football player in our estimation. Second: He’s going to have expectations about where he should be drafted, and I think he’ll be disappointed. He’s not going to get drafted where he thinks he should. The question you will ask yourself, knowing your team, is, ‘How will drafting him affect your locker room?’ And I am sorry to say where we are at this point in time, I think it’s going to affect most locker rooms. A lot of guys will be uncomfortable. Ten years from now, fine. But today, I think being openly gay is a factor in the locker room.”
Why might this be? Fred had a simple idea.
“Well, that’s because your organization sucks,” Fred said. “Because you have no control over your organization. It’s such a copout, and I don’t want to hear another two words about it. What is this ’10 years from now’ nonsense? If this kid doesn’t play in the NFL, how does this improve in 10 years?
“If you were the owner of a football team and you found out that your GM wasn’t going to take the best player available in the draft because he didn’t think his locker room could handle it, the first thing I would do is fire him,” said Fred. “I’d say, ‘Why aren’t we the Patriots? Why can they handle this guy, and why can’t we? And if you can’t handle it, you’re fired. You can’t handle your locker room.'”
He also found it interesting that teams are rarely hesitant to sign or draft players with off-field legal issues but now are hesitant to add a gay player to the locker room.
“This guy didn’t do anything wrong,” Fred said of Sam. “There’s nothing to explain. You’ve had to explain much worse. I like how you can explain violent behavior, and you can explain assaults, and you can explain mistakes made in the past, and you can explain drugs. … All of these things can be explained away, but because a guy’s gay, you can’t get through that. It’s because you’re weak. You’re weak. Your organization is weak.
“And I’m sick of the excuses, because they’re dumb, vapid, see-through, garbage excuses that these teams are giving. The kid deserves to play in the NFL next year. If you’re the SEC defensive player of the year, you deserve a chance to play in the NFL. And it’s crap — it’s not his lack of ability if he doesn’t play.”