By Steve Corkran
Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 at 11:56 am in Oakland Raiders.
Michael Sam, who is hopeful of being the first openly gay player in the NFL, said Saturday that he has another goal that he hopes to accomplish.
“I just wish people would see me as Michael Sam the football player, not Michael Sam the gay man,” Sam said during an interview with reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Saturday.
Sam went public about being gay earlier this month. He’s now focusing on testing well at the scouting combine in front of representatives from every team, including the 49ers and Raiders.
Sam was voted co-Defensive Player of the Year as a pass-rush linebacker at Missouri. It just so happens that the Raiders are in dire need of players that can apply consistent pressure on the quarterback.
“This league is about affecting the quarterback,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said in a Sirius radio interview in Indianapolis. “That’s something that we’ve got to got to do and have to do better.
“Pass rush and pass coverage are going to work together there. We’ve got to do some things to get some people that can get after the quarterback and rush the quarterback.”
Sam notched 11 ½ sacks his final season at Missouri, including three in a game three times. Still, there are questions about whether he is well suited for a particular position in the NFL.
“I’m a pass rusher,” Sam said Saturday. “My specialty is rushing the passer. If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I’m going to get the quarterback.”
Defensive end Lamarr Houston led the Raiders with six sacks last season. Sam is the kind of player that could give the Raiders some much-needed juice rushing the quarterback.
And the Raiders likely could get Sam at a reasonable cost. Sam is projected to last until the third round, at least. Some projections have Sam going undrafted.