Souhan: Signing Michael Sam would have made perfect sense for Vikings

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2014 - 9:05 AM
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Defensive end Michael Sam cleared waivers Sunday after being cut by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday.

Photo: Lynne Sladky, Associated Press

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The Vikings can make the sports world a better place today.

They can power-wash the stain of Chris Kluwe’s allegations.

They can give a valuable coach a chance to redeem himself.

They can become admired as open-minded, big-hearted trailblazers.

They can acquire someone whose college history and style could give new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer another chess piece with which to scheme.

The price they would pay to accomplish all of these wonderful things?

They would have to talk Michael Sam out of signing with Dallas — the Cowboys reportedly are adding him to their practice squad Wednesday after he passes a physical — and bring him to Minnesota for its practice squad, a space usually rented by long-shots whose cleats rarely touch an NFL field.

For an organization with a history of embarrassing antics that has proved savvy in distancing itself from Kluwe’s scorched-earth claims, this is a bargain.

Last year, Missouri’s Sam became the surprise winner of the Southeastern Conference’s defensive player of the year award. He’s a somewhat undersized defensive end whose strength is rushing the passer.

Before the draft, Sam disclosed that he is gay. He had told his teammates before the season, and they were so “distracted,’’ to use a word coaches like to hide behind, Missouri went 12-2.

The St. Louis Rams chose Sam with a seventh-round pick in the draft. He appeared to perform well in the preseason, but the Rams cut him and did not sign him to their practice squad.

The Rams seem to have given Sam a fair chance. He projects to be a pass-rushing end in a 4-3 scheme, and the Rams play a 3-4.

There is a chance that Sam is not good enough to play in the NFL. There is no chance that the SEC defensive player of the year is less promising than every player on every practice squad in the NFL.

In a twist, NFL teams are avoiding signing Sam for the same reason the Vikings dumped Kluwe — because football coaches and executives hate it when fringe players receive more attention than their accomplishments warrant.

NFL teams aren’t necessarily homophobic. They are simple-minded. Each NFL team would rather see another team sign Sam, and hold the obligatory news conferences, and have their players asked about showering with an openly-gay man. (All NFL players already have showered with a gay man; they just haven’t been informed of that fact.)

This is where the Vikings can help the league, and themselves.

Kluwe painted the Vikings as a homophobic organization, making special teams coach Mike Priefer his primary target.

Kluwe placed a governor on Priefer’s career by revealing Priefer’s homophobic comments. If Sam proves good enough to win a job with the Vikings, Priefer would coach him on special teams, giving Priefer a chance to prove he has changed.

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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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