Michael Sam and Louchiez Purifoy are two players that have the ability to play in the NFL. They have the measurables, the game tape and the competitiveness to not only make a roster but carve out their own niche. Each has their own issue that they have to overcome in the locker room in order to be accepted. Will both do it? Which one? How long will it take? All questions that will be answered over time.
As we have all no doubt seen or read about since the NFL Combine, DE Michael Sam of Missouri has come out of the closet and decided to become the first openly gay NFL player. Sam has been lauded for his courage in most NFL circles but just below the surface there are a couple of groups of people in the locker room that might not be so accepting. First, you have the macho, ignorant guys in the locker room that still have outdated stereotypes of homosexuals. They think that they will try to assault them in a shower or just being around them will “make” them gay. Secondly, you have the deeply religious groups in the locker room that believe, in their interpretation of their religious texts of choice, that homosexuality is wrong and denounced by their God. This is the group Michael Sam should be most worried about in the locker room because while he may win over the ignorant group it is very difficult to get people to accept someone who, in their mind, is violating one of their core beliefs.
Louchiez Purifoy, a defensive back for Florida, has, allegedly, violated a very different more in the locker room and one that may alienate him from almost all of his teammates. Purifoy was stopped for possession of marijuana and a synthetic drug called bath salts, according to Pro Football Talk who took their information from the Gainesville Sun. The player avoided his second drug-related arrest by agreeing to become a police informant. While helping the police catch criminals is a recognized practice that can bring good to a community by catching criminals that may have previously slipped through the cracks, the role of informant has a negative connotation to many members of society. The informant or snitch, as some refer to them as, violates some parts of societies’ belief that if you see something you should not help the police or authority in general, but instead stay silent to protect people of your own race, religion, creed or even team. Pragmatically, an informant or snitch would have a hard time gaining the trust of their teammates because the team is all about trusting the other members and acting as one unit, a known informant creates suspicion thus could cause mistrust and disharmony. Edit: There was a warrant issued for Purifoy’s arrest because he was not cooperating with his agreement with the police. That warrant was quashed yesterday. Purifoy will be available at the police’s request.
So there you have it. Two players that should be entering the NFL this year, both will have a level of difficulty winning over their teammates in the locker room but for entirely different reasons. Who do you think will have the easier time? Will either ever be fully accepted?