I don’t envy Michael Sam’s future.

He’s not going to be the first pro gay athlete in America, let’s be honest about that.  He’s simply going to be the first openly gay pro athlete.  That’s code for the press to say “We can talk about it.”  And boy, have they.

I’d love to imagine that Sam will not be facing homophobia or prejudice or harassment, but that’s fantasy land.  Yet, we still live in a land where we need to delineate “Black Quarterbacks” in a sport that is clearly biracial.  That title is still there, whether it’s meant as a point of pride or as a verbal asterisk or whatever it’s meant at (and it can mean many things, depending on who uses the term)…we need to define who a player is by who they are at some point.

It’s stupid, but it is who we still are as a country.  Now, not only will Sam be a gay football player, but he gets the added title of first (accurate or not).

The past few days have been filled with talk of “Can football adapt” and the realities of locker room talk and more.  Hell, this year so far has been dominated by the issue of testosterone in sports, the in-the-moment things people do, from Marcus Smart to Richard Sherman and even as far back as the Incognito incident.  There’s discussion and commentaries about whether it’s ever okay to say certain things, act certain ways, or use certain words.

Eh…it’s bullshit.  It’s time for players to grow up, and act under the same level of decorum as the rest of us.  It’s not that hard to stop using certain words.  Gay slurs, racial slurs…it’s time to stop using in-the-moment or locker-rooms as excuses, and just get the words out of the vocabulary.

Michael Sam will have challenges outside of the media attention.  He is legitimately an imperfect player.  All reports are that his trial run as an outside line back was poor, and he will be an undersized defensive end.  He’s got speed to make up for it, though he doesn’t always use it as well as he could.  And there’s a real concern about him padding a lot of stats against bad teams.

He isn’t a worthless player by any means.  There’s talent, and he’d be a project, but it’s not hard to see an NFL player there.  But will an antiquated system hurt his ability to get his foot in the door?

I’m 98% sure he’ll get drafted and make a team.  But he came out at the toughest, most dangerous time, the point when it will cost in chances, and almost certainly money.

I don’t envy what Sam’s future holds.  But I definitely envy his courage.