- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Michael Sam, a product of Missouri and a 2014 NFL draft prospect, gave interviews that aired Sunday in which he said that he's gay.
Some of the questions being asked in regards to Sam -- will he be accepted in the locker room; how will others feel about sharing a community shower with him? -- are in the same vein as those that were asked about Jackie Robinson at the outset of his time with the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1947.
There is something really sad and pathetic about that, and we should all look forward to the day when the sexual orientation of an athlete -- or non-athlete -- becomes a non-story, when tolerance and rejection of ridiculous stereotypes becomes commonplace.
But until then, it's worth considering some of Jackie Robinson's memories from his clubhouse experience in his rookie season, as published within his autobiography, "I Never Had It Made," including his growing friendship with teammate Pee Wee Reese.
In Boston during a period when the heckling pressure seemed unbearable, some of the Boston players began to heckle Reese. They were riding him about being a Southerner and playing ball with a black man. Pee Wee didn’t answer them. Without a glance in their direction, he left his position and walked over to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and began talking to me. His words weren’t important. I don’t even remember what he said. It was the gesture of comradeship and support that counted. It was the talking with me with a friendly arm around my shoulder, he was saying loud and clear, "Yell. Heckle. Do anything you want. We came here to play baseball."