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Survey Concludes 86 Percent of NFL Players Would Approve of Gay Teammate

Missouri's All-American defensive end Michael Sam claps during the Cotton Bowl trophy presentation at halftime of an NCAA college basketball game between Missouri and Tennessee, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Columbia, Mo. Sam came out to the entire country Sunday, Feb. 9, and could become the first openly gay player in the NFL. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
Tim KeeneyContributor INovember 14, 2016

NFL prospect Michael Sam sent shock waves through the football world last week when he publicly announced he was gay

Since then, much of the speculation has surrounded how that announcement will affect his draft stock and whether or not he will be accepted in an NFL locker room. 

Judging by a recent anonymous survey of 51 random NFL players, most of Sam's future teammates and opponents couldn't care less about his sexual orientation. 

Here's a look at the full results of the survey, which was conducted by ESPN.com's NFL Nation and ESPN The Magazine:

NFL Player Survey
StatementTrueFalseNo Answer
A player's sexual orientation matters to you.7440
I had teammates or coaches who used homophobic slurs last season.32190
I would shower around a gay teammate.39120
An openly gay player would be comfortable in an NFL locker room.25215
ESPN.com

It's unknown if San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was part of the survey, but his recent comments during an interview on ESPN's SportsCenter essentially echoed the exact same sentiment. 

The San Francisco Chronicle's Eric Branch relays Kap's comments regarding Sam from that interview:

I think when he steps into that locker room everyone’s going to know that he’s there to help us win games. That’s why you’re in the NFL — to help us win games. No one cares if you’re black, white, straight, gay, Christian, Jewish, whatever it may be. When you step on that field, you’re a member of, in my case, the 49ers. Or the Carolina Panthers. That’s your job. That’s your occupation.

Cam Newton reiterated that point in the same interview, putting it simply: "But the main focus is we're football players."

Sam has drawn a lot of attention over the past week because he's a trailblazer; once he is signed to a team, he will be the first publicly gay player in the NFL. 

And that's important.

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

But at the same time, the hope is that we eventually get to a place where every player who comes out doesn't have to be put into a blindingly bright spotlight. The results of this survey seem to suggest we are at least headed in the right direction toward full acceptance. 

However, the survey also reveals that there are still issues to overcome, as nearly half of the players who answered said an openly gay player would not feel comfortable in the locker room. 

Couple that with the ongoing situation involving the Miami Dolphins and their issues of verbal abuse, and there are changes that clearly need to be made as we move forward. Sports Illustrated's Peter King put it simply:

And while they’re at it, the NFL is going to put in a seminar for players and coaches and staff on sexual-orientation training. Call it the Michael Sam Seminar. It’s coming, and it should. Homosexuality is not going away, and there’s no reason why any gay player in any NFL locker room should be subject to one-tenth of what Jonathan Martin had to endure over the past two years.

Overall, though, judging by the results of the survey, Sam really only has one thing to worry about as he prepares for life in the NFL: how he performs on the football field.

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