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.

If the Vikings sign Sam, even to their practice squad, they will be adding a player who is similar in size and style to Brian Robison and Everson Griffin, players Zimmer can move all over the field.

If Sam fails, and the Vikings become the second team to judge him unworthy of a roster spot, then the Vikings and the NFL will look better for having given him a second chance.

Sports teams and leagues spend millions of dollars in search of good public relations. They ask their athletes to make frequent public appearances. They publicly contribute to charities. They are desperate to make themselves look good, for the sake of their businesses and personal images.

Signing Sam would rank among the best public-relations moves the Vikings ever have made, and would cost them nothing but a practice-squad roster spot.

The price of signing Sam would be a holding a news conference, and answering a few questions that already have been asked and answered in another NFL city without causing a franchise to implode.

Signing Sam would do more for the Vikings’ image than Zygi’s code of conduct ever did.

 

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. Twitter: @SouhanStrib jsouhan@startribune.com

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 71
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
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Fresno State
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Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
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Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
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Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
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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 Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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