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Is football ready for openly gay players?

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TYLER (KYTX) - Missouri football star Michael Sam shocked the nation Sunday by publicly announcing he is gay.


His bold action leaves many with a question: Will he start a trend?

Coaches and athletes all over the nation, and right here in East Texas are evaluating how something similar would affect their own team. 

"I'm Michael Sam. I'm a football player, and I'm gay."

When Texas College head football coach George Cumby heard those words, he thought about his days playing in the NFL in the 80's.

"When I was playing, it was something that wasn't heard of. Even if guys were gay you didn't hear about it you didn't know about it," Cumby says.

It's not the 80's anymore though, and when we asked Cumby, "Is the NFL ready for a gay football player?" his answer was straight forward.

"Ready or not, here they come."

Coach Cumby has never had a player come out to him or his team -- but says he's prepared for that in the future.

"All men are created equal. What I would do as a coach is I would find out about the situation and we would have to discuss as a team," Cumby says. 

Coach Cumby says this shift could create dynamic changes in the locker room but those are changes he's willing to embrace.

"You have to be able to trust the kid that's lining up beside you, in the same locker room with you, whether you're gay or straight," he says.

Sophomore safety Jeremy McMillan agrees with his coach. He says he would support a teammate if he came out to the team.

"As long has he keeps his personal life out of the locker room, if he's a good player, I don't think it would affect the team camaraderie, so it'd be cool," he says.

McMillan knows lots of players who don't support Michael Sam's announcement or sexual orientation, but he thinks soon, they'll be in the minority. 

"By him being bold and doing what he did, it will give more people the courage to come out and say that they're gay," McMillan says.

Coach Cumby welcomes openness and honesty in his locker room. He says embracing change is the only way to grow. 

If Michael Sam is drafted, as many expect he will be in May, he would be the first openly gay player in the NFL. 

 

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