It’s going to take a certain kind of organization to handle whatever extra attention drafting Michael Sam might bring to the franchise, and it feels to some that are close to the player believe the San Diego Chargers will make an excellent fit.
One of Sam’s agents, Joe Barkett, thinks that both the ability of the Chargers to handle a rookie coming in with certain baggage that might be a distraction and the potential geographical proximity to Barkett himself, working out of Los Angeles, would be the best thing for the young man coming out of Missouri.
The Chargers drafted Manti Te’o last year in the wake of his fake girlfriend story, but kept something of radio silence around the linebacker. He didn’t have an amazing first year in the league, but a decent one, with everyone focusing on his football and nothing really getting in the way of him progressing and improving.
One might argue that Sam being the first openly gay NFL player (if he’ll get signed) is a much bigger story than the hoax that stunned everyone last year and that person won’t be wrong, but as Donte Stallworth already mentioned, it takes a certain kind of franchise to shield players from certain issues and problems, not letting it affect the player or his teammates. The Patriots are always brought up as an example of such a franchise, but the Chargers proved that they can do that just as well with a rookie, focusing on the football and neglecting everything else.
The debate whether Sam’s draft stock is going to take a hit continues, but the thing to remember is what can he do on the field: He was never going to be a high pick; possibly a late-third rounder at best. He’s fast and tackles well, but slightly small and thin for a defensive end in the NFL. If he impresses in the combines and other scouting opportunities in his ability to play as an outside linebacker, making the switch that will probably ensure him an NFL career, some team will find a spot on their roster for him, “distractions” and all.