The father of Michael Sam, the SEC football star who came out publicly on Sunday and may become the first openly gay NFL player if he is drafted and makes a roster, is uncomfortable with a gay player in the NFL–even if that player is his own son.
“I’m old-school,” he told the New York Times. “I’m a man and a woman type of guy.”
He also said that Deacon Jones, the late NFL great known for his bone-crunching hits, is “turning over in his grave.”
Sam’s father, who reportedly took one of his older sons to Mexico to lose his virginity, “was at a Denny’s near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message” telling him that he was gay last Tuesday.
Michael Sam is not close to his family, and he often stays with friends when he goes back home to Texas.
The story details how Sam needed sports to get out of his small town, and how sports saved him from getting into trouble like his other brothers who died or went to jail. It also details how Sam is a loyal friend, a trait that may help him in an NFL locker room that may not be used to dealing with someone who is openly gay:
Sam was a natural peacemaker, but he was not afraid to use his size when needed. When he saw Robert Dohman, a friend since elementary school, with a busted lip outside a local mall, he waded into a crowd of two dozen and lifted the offender into the air.
“What do you know about jumping the white boy in the parking lot?” Sam shouted, according to Dohman.
The crowd scattered.
“He was trying to protect me,” Dohman said.
Sam, who is considered a “tweener” because he is a bit too small to be a traditional defensive end and a bit too big to be a traditional linebacker, is projected as a mid-round draft pick in May’s NFL Draft.