Few NFL locker rooms are viewed as skeptically as the Miami Dolphins’ — thanks to the team’s still-unfolding bullying scandal.
But Michael Sam, who is set to become the league’s first openly gay player, would be “welcomed here with open arms as part of our family,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in a released statement Wednesday.
Ross added, however, that Sam’s landmark announcement will have “no bearing either way on our evaluation of him as a player.”
Scouts project Sam, a defensive end from Missouri, as a mid-round pick in May’s draft. Sam, who announced Sunday that he is gay, will participate in football drills and meet with the media at next week’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
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In the days since Sam’s announcement, dozens of NFL players and owners have joined the countless to support his decision. On Wednesday, Ross added his voice.
“Michael Sam’s announcement is a significant step in sports and I respect the choice that he made publicly,” Ross said. “[General manager Dennis Hickey, coach Joe Philbin] and I all agree on the same thing: We’ll draft the best players that can help us win football games, have high character and contribute to the community.”
Ross’ remarks could potentially come in the same week that Ted Wells finally releases his report on the team’s workplace conduct scandal. Wells’ New York-based law firm previously said that the results of his inquiry will either come late this week or early next.