Any NFL team that drafts Michael Sam will be taking on much more than a rookie pass-rusher. But experts say the smart approach for a team that signs the leagues first openly gay athlete -- from a marketing and public relations standpoint -- is to simply let Sams on-field play speak for him and his team. "While this is a significant announcement given the sport, the general hope is that hes just accepted as one of the other men on the roster, and therefore his marketability is still simply tied to his ability to play well on the field and ultimately make the team," said Paul Swangard, managing director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon. Sam declared Sunday that he is gay in interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports. The Missouri All-American had already come out last August to his coaches and teammates, who respected his privacy. Now Sam is entering uncharted territory as he prepares for the NFL draft. The SECs co-defensive player of the year was projected to be a mid-round selection. At 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, Sam will likely have to transition to outside linebacker, which could impact where hes drafted. But announcing hes gay could also have an impact on his draft status. "Im not naive to think there arent potentially some owners or executives out there who will say, Eh, Im not so sure now." said Golden State Warriors President and Chief of Operations Rick Welts, who came out publicly in 2011. "But also, I hope, there are a lot who would say, Theres an opportunity to do something that I think our fans would actually embrace. And if were supposed to win football games, if this guy helps us win football games, thats somebody we should have on our roster." Sam, 24, joins a growing list of active athletes to publicly come out, including Robbie Rogers, a winger for Major League Soccers Los Angeles Galaxy, and Brittney Griner, who plays for the WNBAs Phoenix Mercury. Conner Mertens, a kicker for Division III Willamette University, came out as bisexual late last month, and is believed to have been the first active college football player to publicly announce his sexuality. Griner, as one of the WNBAs brightest stars, was the centerpiece of the Mercurys marketing campaign. She also made a point of supporting causes that are important to her. "There was nothing about her that was difficult in marketing. We supported what she wanted to do with bullying and the LGBT community. We made those connecting points," said Amber Cox, president of the Mercury before leaving to go to the Big East last fall. Nike has also thrown support to LGBT athletes, signing both Griner and Jason Collins, a former NBA player who came out last year, to sponsorship deals, and launching its "Be True" campaign. Profits from the .BeTrue collection are being donated to the LGBT Sports Coalition to support the goal of ending discrimination in sport. Mark Elderkin of the Gay Ad Network, an online media platform for national advertisers, said NFL teams need only look at Sams track record. "Theyre going to make their choices based on who the best college athletes are. And theyre going to choose Michael if they deem him the best pick. So, I think they need to focus on the facts, and his performance over the years, his All-America status and everything hes done for Missouri," Elderkin said. "Also his relationships with the fans, and with the positive energy he has around his teammates and their full support, shows that hes not going to be disruptive to the team in any way, but is going to add value." But its still a reality that gay athletes face a backlash. Derogatory comments were easily found among the positive posts on social media and other online commentary following Sams announcement. A Pew Research survey last year of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults in the U.S. found that just 4 per cent saw pro sports leagues as friendly toward LGBT people, while 59 per cent saw the leagues as unfriendly and 36 per cent saw them as neutral. Still, even over the past year there have been significant overall victories in gay and lesbian rights, most notably two U.S. Supreme Court decisions in June. One ruling cleared the way for ending a ban on same-sex marriages in California; the other struck down a 1996 law passed by Congress that banned federal recognition of same-sex marriages. It remains to be seen how growing tolerance extends to the NFL playing field. "I think the point thats being made in a lot of the discussion is, Lets just move on," Swangard said. "If the guy makes a team, then he makes the team. His sexual orientation shouldnt be the story." Derrick Shelby Jersey
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. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. - Billy Hurley III has been waiting for a breakthrough moment on the PGA Tour. On Independence Day, the former U.S. Navy officer might have set himself up for one this weekend in the Greenbrier Classic. Hurley shot a season-best 7-under 63 on Friday to take the second-round lead. Hurleys bogey-free round included a chip-in from 29 feet on No. 4 in cool conditions before the wind picked up considerably late in his morning round. "You know, anytime you play good, its great, right?" Hurley said. "Theres special days of the year for our country, and having served ... adds something to it. Its kind of pretty cool, I guess, to shoot 7 under on the 4th of July." Its a nice storyline. Then again, having military experience wasnt on his mind in jumping to the top of the leaderboard. "I was just trying to keep getting the ball in the hole," he said. Hurley was at 9-under 131 at Old White TPC. Eleven players were within four shots of him. Kevin Chappell (65) and Chris Stroud (66) were a stroke back. Troy Matteson Troy Matteson had a 61 to vault into fourth place at 7 under. He has made the cut in all five years of the Greenbrier Classic. Brice Garnett (66), Steve Stricker (68) and Chris Kirk (69) were another stroke back at 6 under. Hurley graduated from Annapolis in 2004 and spent five years in the Navy. He playing golf sparingly while stationed in Hawaii and worked out as much as he could. Being mentally tough on the course comes easy for Hurley, whose missions included steering a Navy destroyer through the Suez Canal. Playing partner Chris Stroud said it was "special" for a former military man to be leading the tournament and was amazed at how Hurley could recapture his golf game. "Theres a lot to be said about that," Stroud said. Hurley rejoined the PGA Tourr this season and has three top 10 finishes so far, including a tie for eighth at Congressional last week.dddddddddddd His best career finish is a tie for fourth in the AT&T National two years ago, also at Congressional. A solid ending at The Greenbrier resort would get him into the British Open later this month. The four best finishers not previously eligible among the top 12 on the final leaderboard will earn spots in the July 17-20 tournament at Royal Liverpool. Playing alongside good friend Hurley, Stroud birdied four of his first five holes but gained no more ground. Chappells round included holing a 35-yard pitch on the par-3 15th after a poor tee shot. Chappells only top 10 finish of the season came at Colonial. But this week, hes at ease amid the mountains, Howards Creek running through the Old White TPC and the rest of the resorts atmosphere. "You know, the course has a great flow to it, just at peace out there," he said. "All the running water and all the good scenery just puts me in a good spot." Matteson holed a 35-yard pitch on the par-3 15th and needed just 19 putts — one shy of the PGA Tour record held by eight players. "It was unlike any day Ive had this year," said Matteson, who had missed the cut in 11 of his previous 13 tournaments. "I just havent been getting it in the hole all year, and to have a day like this really kind of turns things around." Bubba Watson was among five players at 5 under. He shot 67. First-round leader Jonas Blixt had three early bogeys and shot 73 to drop into a tie for 25th at 3 under. FexEx Cup points leader Jimmy Walker (75) was among those who missed the cut. He finished 5 over. Ninety players advanced to weekend play at even par or better. Patrick Rodgers shot 75, but at even par for the tournament he made his third straight cut since turning pro. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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