College football star Michael Sam showed a great deal of courage when he opened up about his sexuality on Sunday, a move that could make the 24-year-old All-American the first openly gay NFL player if he is drafted as expected in May.
Now it is up to the NFL and the sports world to show the same courage and accept Sam — on and off the field.
If he's drafted, he could be a real team contributor. Last year, he was among the top pass rushers in his SEC division, recording an impressive 10.5 sacks. Those types of stats extend his football conversation past the buzz around his sexuality. Couple that athletic potential with the right sports agent, and the University of Missouri defensive end could make it big.
Sam already is represented by Joe Barkett and Empire Athletes. But if he joins the big league, he should sign with a big-league agency — our pick is Jay Z and Roc Nation Sports. (Sorry, Joe.)
In just under a year, Hov's sports outfit has made itself a major player by adding big names like NBA All-Star Kevin Durant, Super Bowl champion Victor Cruz, WNBA star Skylar Diggins, New York Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia and New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith. In December, RNS negotiated a $240 million contract for Robinson Cano, the third largest contract in baseball history and is now reportedly advising Detriot Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Since breaking into sports, Jay has challenged the status quo — something Sam is doing by coming out in a notoriously homophobic sports culture. Jay dealt a lyrical jab to very accomplished agent Scott Boras on his Magna Carta... Holy Grail LP, starting a breakthrough from the old era of sports management to something new. With Sam under his wing, this could be the start of something new.
In a Vanity Fair article last year, Jay Z openly acknowledged how his drug-dealing past has helped him navigate through the sports world. And while Hov's coming-of-age story is different from the one Sam is currently scripting, both have and are enduring the controversies that make them who they are. And just like Jay largely let his music speak for him, Sam will have to prove himself on the field.
Relative to any rappers, Jigga has made all of the right moves in and out of the studio, becoming rap royalty. As a mentor to Sam, Jay Z can help the young baller to do the same.