February 22, 2014 |
INDIANAPOLIS - Michael Sam stepped onto stage and looked into what might have been the largest media gathering in the history of the NFL scouting combine. Hundreds of reporters clustered in, and there were three rows of TV and video cameras. "I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player," the Missouri defensive end said, "instead of Michael Sam the gay football player. " Then again, it was Sam who generated the story with his announcement two weeks ago he is homosexual, telling his story to the New York Times and ESPN.
February 21, 2014 |
INDIANAPOLIS - Every year at the NFL scouting combine, at least one high-profile prospect - often a quarterback - stands in a spotlight that is closer to a blinding interrogation lamp. The questions are prying and relentless. The answers are unknowable - at least in the short term. Was Matt Leinart too Hollywood? Was Cam Newton sufficiently focused on football? Was Russell Wilson too short? Was the partying of Ryan Mallett a liability? Was Tim Tebow's style a fit for the pros?
February 20, 2014 |
INDIANAPOLIS - A scant three weeks into the off-season, the NFL is dealing with three public relations infernos, two involving current players. There's the Miami Dolphins bullying saga, chronicled in a just-released investigation that pulled back the curtain on the team's toxic locker room culture. The Dolphins have fired their offensive line coach and longtime trainer, and player suspensions could be in the works. There's the arrest of retired Pro Bowl safety Darren Sharper, most recently an NFL Network analyst, on charges that he drugged and raped two women.
February 19, 2014 |
INDIANAPOLIS - There will be intrigue, just as there is every year with the NFL scouting combine, as the nation's top college football prospects look to turn the heads of their future employers with size, speed and strength. But this year's event promises a little history to go along with the mystery. Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, on track to become the first openly gay NFL player, will be working out for teams, as will a record 103 players who opted to forgo their senior seasons and make the early plunge into the draft pool.
February 11, 2014 |
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Craig Kuligowski heard the words, but at first they didn't register. In nearly three decades in college football, the University of Missouri defensive line coach had come to view summer team-building sessions as a typically uneventful training camp exercise. So he wasn't expecting different on a sweltering day last August when he gathered 15 players in a nondescript, windowless meeting room on the first floor of the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex. There, beneath seven black-and-gold placards professing an adherence to teamwork, camaraderie and character, one of the players tested whether those were core values or just empty words.
February 10, 2014 |
While politicians and others heaped praise Monday on NFL prospect Michael Sam for announcing that he's gay, calling him a pioneer in the sports world, the news was largely met in pro football circles with a collective shrug. The pressing issue for those football types: How well can he play? "Times have changed; it's a nonissue," said one NFL team executive of Sam, a University of Missouri senior defensive end. "If he can play, everything will be fine. It's going to be a story.