Vikings owner Zygi Wilf supported openly gay Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, who is expected to be chosen in the May NFL draft, calling Sam's decision to announce he is gay as “courageous” in a statement Monday.
“We commend Michael Sam for being very courageous with his openness on something of such a personal nature,” Wilf said. “His comments will have no impact on how the Vikings view Michael as a football player or as a person. If a player can help us win, we will warmly welcome him as part of the team and provide an accepting, respectful and supportive environment to help him succeed in the NFL.”
Sam, an All-America and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year last season, has been projected as a third to fifth-round choice by most NFL analysts. At 6-foot-2 and 255 pounds, he is considered a bit too small for defensive end and not quick enough for linebacker. NFL scouts have raved about Sam’s pass rushing ability, which has been a lacking trait in this year’s class.
The Vikings’ coaching staff has spent the day in draft meetings and will get a second chance to observe Sam at the NFL Combine next week. Sam also participated in the Senior Bowl last month.
One of the members on staff, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, is the center of an independent review regarding claims from former punter Chris Kluwe of anti-gay remarks. Kluwe had dinner with Sam on Saturday, the day before his announcement went public.
New Vikings coach Mike Zimmer retained Priefer, who was the 2012 NFL special teams coach of the year, and addressed the issure on Saturday, saying about Priefer, “good guy, great guy; great person, great family man. Just like our other coaches, he’s going to approach his job every single day. It’s extremely, extremely important to him to do a great job. He’s a team first guy all the way.”
Assistant coach added
The Vikings added former NFL center Hank Fraley to their coaching staff. He will be the assistant offensive line coach.
Fraley spent 11 seasons in the NFL with Philadelphia (2000-05), Cleveland (2006-09) and St. Louis (2010). He was assistant line coach at the University of San Diego in 2012 and spent last season as the offensive line coach at San Jose State.
Fraley played college football at Robert Morris, and is the first alum from that university to play in a Super Bowl. He was the starting center for Philadelphia in Super Bowl XXXIX.