Kraft on Michael Sam: If he can help us win, he's welcome

Kraft on Michael Sam: If he can help us win, he's welcome
February 10, 2014, 6:00 pm
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Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam made history on Sunday night when he announced that he was gay.

Sam, the SEC co-defensive player of the year, is entering the NFL Draft, where, before the announcement, he was expected to be drafted anywhere from the third to seventh round.

Since the announcement, there has been speculation as to whether or not Sam's announcement will cause his draft stock to take a hit, as some NFL GMs may balk at drafting him.

If that's the case, the Patriots could be a team that benefits because of it. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick already said the team has performed "extensive work" on Sam, and will continue to do so. Patriots owner Robert Kraft made it clear that he supports Sam's announcement, and if Sam could help the Patriots, he could be a member of the team.

“We’re about winning,” Kraft told the Boston Herald. “And anyone who can come in here and help us win, I personally don’t care what their ethnic background is, their racial background, the gender preference. If they can help us win, and they’re about team first, then I’m happy to have him here.”

The Patriots have not shied away from drafting players that other teams have passed on in the past. Some have come back to bit them (Aaron Hernandez), while others have worked out. They drafted Alfonzo Dennard despite his legal issues. And drafted Rob Gronkowski despite his health issues (and have had mixed results since).

They signed Tim Tebow as a free agent and that didn't affect the team negatively (off the field, anyways…).

Kraft is proud of the culture he's built in New England, and believes that Sam - or any openly gay player - could thrive there.

“If a player were gay and came into this locker room, it would be the most supportive system,” Kraft said. “He’d gain strength by being in here. And it wouldn’t be divisive and he’d make friends for life and they could help him win.

“I really believe that,” he said. “And it was interesting to me that this young man announced to his teammates that he was gay before the season started. And they had a 12-2 record, they were in the SEC championship game, like us being in the AFC championship game, and they lost to Auburn and beat Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.

“And he was co-defensive player of the year in the SEC. And that was after full disclosure. And that makes me happy.”