Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin is at least the second NFL figure -- joining San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh -- to suggest the biggest challenge for former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam as the NFL's first openly gay draft prospect will be the swarm of media coverage he'll receive.
In a first-person story for mmqb.si.com, Barwin detailed the vast differences between the workplace environment for NFL players and the traditional work environment before revealing some insight into what lies ahead for Sam. The constant questions about his sexual orientation, no doubt, will get old for Sam. Harbaugh said as much at the NFL Scouting Combine.
But if Sam's handling of dozens of reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine is even the slightest indication, the media will be the least of his worries. He came off as confident as a person and as a player. And it's how well Sam plays the game, Barwin said, that will ultimately determine how he is viewed by his teammates.
Barwin's perspective on Sam's challenge is different not only because he is an NFL veteran but because his brother, Joe, is gay. And for Barwin, Sam has a chance to change some things for the better.
"I think most guys in the NFL know someone or know someone who knows someone who’s gay," Barwin wrote. "But for some guys in this league, Michael Sam will be the first openly gay man they have ever met. He has a great opportunity to change the stereotypes that many in this country associate with homosexuality."
First, however, Sam has to make an NFL roster. And that challenge could be a much tougher one than dealing with reporters.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.