Maybe Michael Sam will fit in NFL just fine - 21 News Now, More Local News for Youngstown, Ohio -

Maybe Michael Sam will fit in NFL just fine

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The NFL locker room has long been an unforgiving place.

There's a reason the popular behind-the-scenes training camp reality show on HBO is called "Hard Knocks," right?

The aggression and confidence inherent with elite athletes playing a physically punishing sport can bring about a boys-will-be-boys atmosphere that, considering the case in Miami last season, has the potential to turn brutal.

But with Michael Sam on the verge of becoming the league's first openly gay player, maybe he'll fit in just fine. This is 2014, after all. Sexual orientation isn't as big of a deal for Sam's generation as it was for their fathers'.

Though the stigma of the offensive linemen bullying scandal was still swarming the Dolphins, there were signs at the NFL scouting combine this weekend that the locker room is a more modern, tolerant environment it might be given credited for.

"Those problems in Miami, those surprise me because I think that we never had those issues in Denver when it came down to the things that went on in that locker room and the things that were said," said Hall of Famer John Elway, Denver's executive vice president of football operations and general manager. "I think every locker room that I've ever been in in the NFL and the guys I've been around have always respected the right of other players. There is a line you don't cross. I still believe that's the way the majority of the NFL is."

Sam's former Missouri teammate, wide receiver L'Damian Washington, wondered what all the fuss was about with questions about whether Sam would be welcomed by his peers in the league when the Tigers had no problem doing so.

"Most of the guys already knew him and it wasn't a big deal, but we had freshmen on the team who were 17 years old out of high school - 17 years out of high school you're pretty immature," Washington said. "They just could be like, 'Aw, we've got a gay guy on our team.' But those guys embraced it, because he was a great teammate. He was a great guy. He never brought any of that to the locker room. I feel like if a 17-year-old freshman can accept the fact that a teammate has a different preference in sex, then why can't 33-year-old vets accept that fact?"

Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians downplayed the danger, too.

"None of that matters in the locker room as long as we're all in it to win, and in every locker room I've ever been in it was all about winning. So if you have a hand in us winning and you were different, guys accepted it," Arians said. "Now the fans? That's a different story. I've walked into stadiums where gentlemen are teaching their sons how to moon the bus and moms are teaching their daughters what their middle fingers are for. It's not a ring finger. That scares me more, what's going to be said from the stands and the fans. But the locker room? The locker room won't be a problem."

Sam, who was joined in his situation Sunday when openly gay NBA player Jason Collins signed with the New Jersey Nets to become that league's first openly gay players, said he's not concerned about unruly customers, either.

"I've been getting a lot of great positives from all kinds of fans. And you know when I'm on the field I really don't focus on fans, so I just focus on my responsibilities, which is the guy right across from me," Sam said.

Maybe someday right the guy across from him on the offensive line will be openly gay, too.

"It will get to the stage where it doesn't even need to be announced, like me announcing I'm straight," Memphis punter Tom Hornsey said. "It's being put on a pedestal for being the first one, but I believe as time goes on it will be the norm."

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell commended Sam for his "honesty and courage" after his announcement two weeks ago. The league's competition committee has begun to consider ways to clean up language on the field by policing for racial and sexual slurs.

This multi-billion-dollar business isn't exactly a collection a cavemen, no matter what emerged in Miami.

"We want to be and a culture of respect, communication and laying out that foundation and being intentional about communication throughout the building," Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said, adding: "We want to set the standard around the league."

___

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    YSU baseball beats Oakland 5-0

    YSU baseball beats Oakland 5-0

    NILES, Ohio -- Nic Manuppelli and two relievers combined for a five-hit shutout, and Nick DiNello came off the bench to drive in three runs as the Youngstown State baseball team beat Oakland 5-0 on Saturday afternoon at Eastwood Field.Manuppelli surrendered just four hits and two walks while striking out four batters in six innings to earn his first victory. Alex Frey retired two batters in the seventh, and Kevin Yarabinec came in to pitch the final 2.1 innings and record his second save.The ...More >>
    NILES, Ohio -- Nic Manuppelli and two relievers combined for a five-hit shutout, and Nick DiNello came off the bench to drive in three runs as the Youngstown State baseball team beat Oakland 5-0 on Saturday afternoon at Eastwood Field.Manuppelli surrendered just four hits and two walks while striking out four batters in six innings to earn his first victory. Alex Frey retired two batters in the seventh, and Kevin Yarabinec came in to pitch the final 2.1 innings and record his second save.The ...More >>
  • YSU Press Release

    YSU softball beats Wright State 3-2 on Senior Day

    YSU softball beats Wright State 3-2 on Senior Day

    YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Senior Samantha Snodgrass' bases-loaded fielder's choice in the bottom of the eighth inning scored sophomore Miranda Castiglione and lifted the Youngstown State softball team to a 3-2 Senior Day come-from-behind win over Wright State on Saturday afternoon at the YSU Softball Field.The Penguins improve to 22-19 overall and 7-6 in the Horizon League while the Raiders fall to 13-27 and 8-6 in the league. Heach Coach Brian Campbell also picked up career win No. 399.Castiglione...More >>
    YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Senior Samantha Snodgrass' bases-loaded fielder's choice in the bottom of the eighth inning scored sophomore Miranda Castiglione and lifted the Youngstown State softball team to a 3-2 Senior Day come-from-behind win over Wright State on Saturday afternoon at the YSU Softball Field.The Penguins improve to 22-19 overall and 7-6 in the Horizon League while the Raiders fall to 13-27 and 8-6 in the league. Heach Coach Brian Campbell also picked up career win No. 399.Castiglione...More >>
  • Instant replay coming to the Missouri Valley Football Conference

    Instant replay coming to the Missouri Valley Football Conference

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    GM boosting China production capacity to 5 million

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  • Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

    Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:03 AM EDT2014-04-20 13:03:14 GMT
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  • Easter Bunny train sparks New Jersey brush fires

    Easter Bunny train sparks New Jersey brush fires

    Sunday, April 20 2014 8:31 AM EDT2014-04-20 12:31:46 GMT
    POHATCONG TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - A train carrying the Easter Bunny in northwestern New Jersey has ignited several small brush fires.The Express-Times newspaper in Easton, Pennsylvania, reports the fires occurred Saturday in Pohatcong Township and Phillipsburg. No major property damage is reported. A firefighter from the New Jersey state forest fire service fell and dislocated his hip.Huntington Volunteer Fire Company Chief Peter Pursell tells the newspaper the diesel en...More >>
    POHATCONG TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - A train carrying the Easter Bunny in northwestern New Jersey has ignited several small brush fires.The Express-Times newspaper in Easton, Pennsylvania, reports the fires occurred Saturday in Pohatcong Township and Phillipsburg. No major property damage is reported. A firefighter from the New Jersey state forest fire service fell and dislocated his hip.Huntington Volunteer Fire Company Chief Peter Pursell tells the newspaper the diesel en...More >>
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