Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, an outspoken activist for gay rights, offered up two NFL clubs that could be ideal fits -- one predictable, one not so predictable -- for the NFL's first openly gay draft prospect, Michael Sam: The New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay is the NFL's smallest market by far, with a population of just over 100,000, which would inevitably make Sam bigger local news. Tougher to blend in, which would certainly appear to be the plan for Sam given his publicist's stated aversion to Sam engaging in activism in the short term. As well, Kluwe suggested more traditional Midwestern values may not be a concern for Sam's acceptance among Packers fans.
"I think the Packers would be a good choice," Kluwe said in appearing on The Dan Patrick Show, "because, yeah, it's Wisconsin. It's middle America. But the Packers, their fans love their team. And it doesn't matter to them who you are. If you can play football, they are going to support you."
"I think the Patriots would probably be a good choice, just because they have a media embargo, basically, where Belichick doesn't let anything in or out that he doesn't want to."
Kluwe has alleged that he was cut by the Vikings because of his advocacy for gay rights. His last season with the club was 2012. He was with the Raiders in training camp last summer, but he was released before the regular season. Some of Kluwe's most pointed allegations were of homophobic remarks by special-teams coach Mike Priefer, whom Kluwe believed to be a primary reason he was let go by the team. Priefer, in turn, denied the allegations and said Kluwe's release was performance-based.
Kluwe also chided anonymously-speaking NFL club executives for their characterization of locker-room concerns about drafting Sam, the former Missouri defensive end and SEC Co-Player of the Year.
"I think they have their own insecurities, and they're projecting that onto Michael. They think they can hide behind the word 'distraction'. It's kind of a code word," Kluwe said. "... If you look at the NFL, the NFL survived Mike Vick, the NFL has survived Tim Tebow, the NFL has survived Aaron Hernandez, the NFL has survived Riley Cooper. Why is it all of a sudden that an openly gay player is going to be this huge distraction that brings the NFL to its knees? That's ludicrous."
Sam has been projected as a third- to fifth-round pick, although he has been described as a "tweener" as a player who doesn't fit well at a specific position for the NFL. Considered too small to play defensive end (6-foot-1, 255 pounds) and unsuited for dropping into coverage as a linebacker, his initial draft status hasn't been helped by the perception that his NFL role could be limited to a third-down pass rusher.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.