Tedy Bruschi believes Michael Sam can assimilate into an NFL locker room. But the former New England Patriots linebacker cautions it could take time for some teammates to accept the sport's first openly gay player.
"It's going to be unusual at first," Bruschi, now an analyst for ESPN, said Wednesday on "SportsCenter." "And I think that's what has to be the process that Sam's going to have to go through because a lot of these players in the NFL do not know him yet -- do not know him as the person that former teammates are talking about, that the University of Missouri is talking about -- that quality of character that he has. They don't know him yet. What they know about him right now is that he's gay."
Will players eventually be able to move beyond it?
"I think they can. I think it will be more difficult for some than others," he said. "I think so. Because you are talking about a locker room where there is immaturity, OK, there is youth, alright, and this is probably the most, one of the most difficult situations that some of them will have to deal with up to this point of their lives, dealing with a gay teammate something that they haven't had to deal with before. It's different. It's uncommon. Putting young kids in that situation, you will get mixed reaction."
Bruschi believes any NFL team thinking of drafting Sam would be wise to consult with their team captains first.
"I think you also have to ask the leaders on your team, and have a phone conversation, or have a sit down with them, and ask your captains maybe the question, 'Are we ready to handle this? Can our locker room handle this?,'" he said. "The players that you know, you are one of the leaders on our team, 'Do you think he would be welcome, and do you think the transition process -- could we get through it as a team?'"