Michael Sam is not the first gay athlete in sports, but nonetheless represents a Robinsonian watershed figure in the 21st century sports world. He is a figure who ignites a polarizing firestorm of public and private discourse about his place in the nation's most popular athletic arena. Sam is a very unique case because he is not only a social revolutionary but the subject of morality debates.
I have tried to take a litmus test of popular opinion on this issue and I have heard a number of people noting they are inherently against homosexuality and take moral refrain from condoning such actions. I am a Catholic and do my best to follow what the Church teaches as moral living. The letter of my faith bluntly acknowledges that homosexuality is likely sinful on a biblical level. That being said, if one looks at who Christ associated Himself with while on Earth, He gladly shared table with sinners and rebuked those who hypocritically decried "lesser" sins while living without charity and faithfulness. In this way, I have little moral grounds to say anything about Michael Sam's sexuality other than I disapprove of him acting on those feelings, but nonetheless must treat him with the holistic dignity and respect inherent of every human being. I have no basis to treat him as anything other than a defensive end/3-4 Will Linebacker from Missouri. To single out the sin of homosexual sexual relations is to ignore the greed, cruelty and unfaithfulness that plagues our society as a whole. There is a moral dimension to Sam's case, absolutely. But while one can legitimately dogmatically disagree with homosexual relations they cannot treat him as anything less a dignified human being.
Michael Sam is also a young man with a tremendous amount of strength. His well documented tragic childhood shows a resilient young man eager to be a calming force of strength for a family in shambles.
As far as his playing ability is concerned, Sam obviously had an excellent year in a prime conference, and showed quick moves in space and good agility off of the edge. He is a bit of a tweener as multiple analysts on ESPN have cited, and it is uncertain where on the football field he will be utilized- ESPN has speculated either at end or Will OLB in a 3-4 as a pure pass rusher. This is probably his biggest limitation in that it will be difficult for him to get on the field until his run stopping ability improves.
In any case, Michael Sam is a player who sparks ethical and social debate and is sure to be a polarizing figure at the NFL level.