Thomas isn’t sure how Sam will cope with all the attention if he is drafted.
New York Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas believes that although society and America are ready to accept and commend Michael Sam, the NFL prospect may find it tougher on a personal level in the locker room.
Sam’s announcement that he is gay has undoubtedly dominated headlines this week with various figures within the football system supporting his decision to go public.
However, Thomas admits that although Sam has found widespread acceptance in the last few days, finding it in NFL locker rooms may be more difficult to come by.
“I think society is ready for it and America’s ready for it, but I don’t think the NFL is,” Thomas told ESPN.com in a phone interview Tuesday night..
“As a player, all you want to know is if he can play. That’s on the field. But in the locker room, it’s different. There’s a lot of talk and joking around, and some guys walk around completely naked all the time, and they might not want to do that anymore. When you add that situation to the mix, I think it’s going to make some people uncomfortable.
“Things are changing, and certain change is inevitable. We have to look at him like a brother and can’t treat him any different. But that could be difficult for some people, just the way our locker rooms work.”
Sam, an All-American pass-rusher at Missouri, announced he is gay during an interview with ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” on Sunday, and assuming he is drafted this year, he would become the first openly gay player in NFL history.
It is understood that Sam came out to his University of Missouri teammates prior to the 2013 season, as the team embraced him and went 12-2.
Thomas questioned that if a group of 18-year-olds can accept him, then why couldn’t a bunch of grown men, however he still insists that the environment and atmosphere is different at that level and coming into the league having gone public may make things more difficult for Sam.
Further, Thomas also discussed the way it would change how players feel and how they would carry themselves around Sam, given that they have been accustomed to a way of acting for so long it may be difficult for them to change, and to change in the right way.
The 2014 NFL Draft is scheduled for May 8, with speculation suggesting that Sam has already fallen down a number of boards following his decision.