I’m a huge Eagles fan (I have been my whole life), and I think you’ve been a great addition to the team, both on and off the field.
Aside from loving football, I’m active in the local LGBT community here in Philly, and I’m quite civically engaged. I know from reading about you that you’re also civic-minded, have been outspoken on your support regarding issues of equality and that you happen to have a gay brother. I’m writing to you regarding the news of Michael Sam coming out as publicly gay prior to the May NFL Draft. I saw your tweet voicing your support, but I’m writing to respectfully ask that you consider going one step further. If you feel comfortable doing so, I want you to talk about the prospect of Michael Sam becoming an Eagle with Coach Kelly and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. You’re obviously one of the respected leaders in the Eagles locker room, and I think you would be the perfect person to speak to them about this.
Since the Sam news broke, there have been multiple reports quoting “anonymous” (i.e., gutless) NFL scouts and GMs stating their opinion that Sam’s draft stock will likely drop as a result of his announcement. That may be true, but it doesn’t have to be. And I believe the Eagles are just the team to prove the naysayers wrong. The Riley Cooper incident that occurred last year showed a lot about the character of Kelly and about the Eagles as a team — and I mean that in a good way. It showed that the Eagles were a group of men who were strong-minded and mature enough to work through a difficult situation and not let it destroy the chemistry in the locker room. I don’t believe most teams or coaches in the NFL would have been able to navigate such a difficult and sensitive situation as well as the Eagles did in this case. But what the handling of the Riley Cooper situation also showed me is that the Eagles could be the perfect fit for a player like Sam, because the culture of this current Eagles roster seems to be one that would judge Sam based on his performance and how he behaves as a teammate, not his personal life.
Now I realize that the job of an NFL GM is to find value when making draft picks — and that “value” is traditionally defined as not taking a guy in the third round that you easily could have gotten in the seventh round. But when it comes to Sam, I think the way that one defines “value” is different from that of other players. The potential value that Sam brings to an NFL team is not just what he will do on the field, but what it will do for the city where he plays, and our society as a whole. In Philadelphia, Sam would clearly find a supportive environment off the field, and I think it’s quite likely that he would find a supportive organization and locker room with the Philadelphia Eagles.
And this presents the Eagles with an amazing opportunity: They can be the catalysts who shorten the road to our society reaching a point where a person’s sexuality is a non-factor when considering professional or athletic potential. To achieve this, they simply need to draft Sam, but also have the guts to draft him in the round that his performance on the field warrants (assuming he’s still available). Doing so would shine a powerful and positive light on the Eagles as an organization, as they would be displaying the same kind of courage that Sam has already shown as an individual.
And in a league lacking courage, specifically from NFL executives who hide behind a curtain of anonymity to espouse backward-thinking views, acts of true courage should be recognized — not just in supportive tweets from you and others, but in action, because there is a bigger picture at play here. Football is much more than a game. Here in Philadelphia, it’s a unifying force. It’s something that unites young and old, rich and poor, blue collar and white collar, black and white, male and female ... and yes, even straight and gay. And once in a while, a football team is given an opportunity to not just be a pro sports team, but also to be a societal trailblazer.
As a Philadelphian, and as an Eagles fan, it would make me proud to know that my team was the team that blazed that path. A path that is much bigger than football.
With that, I thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll take this message to heart, and consider sharing these points with Coach Kelly and Howie Roseman. And as always, GO EAGLES!