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While several teams and coache

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    January 6, 2020 11:26 AM MSK

    Michael Sam will face a daunting set of challenges that most rookies dont have to deal with when making the already formidable jump from college to the NFL. Kenrich Williams Jersey . The SECs co-defensive player of the year is about to find out if Americas most popular sport, rooted in machismo and entrenched in locker room hijinks, is ready for its first openly gay player. First, hell have to find a team willing to put up with the media circus that will surround him. Then, hell have to find acceptance like he did at Missouri, where his sexuality was a non-issue during a 12-2 season. Only now, hell face opponents and their fans who know hes gay. He might even face cheap shots and teammates hesitant to shower alongside him or undress in his presence. While several teams and coaches said Monday that Sams sexual orientation wouldnt affect his draft status, former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, who contends his championing of gay rights led to his release from the Minnesota Vikings last year, wasnt so sure. "The majority of players will be supportive of Michael Sam or just wont care," Kluwe said. "Youll have isolated guys here and there who might try to make a fuss about it, but players by and large are very much, Hey, were here to do a job, were here to go out and play football. "In terms of the coaching/front office side, I think theres where issues are going to arise because they are going to look at this like, Hey, is this going to cause a distraction for the team? And by distraction, they mean, Were not really OK with having a gay player on our team, we cant come out and say that, so were going to use the word distraction," Kluwe added. "And unfortunately, those are the people who determine if youre employed or not." John Elway has a unique perspective running the Broncos front office now after a Hall of Fame playing career, and he said Monday hed have no problem drafting Sam. "We will evaluate Michael just like any other draft prospect: on the basis of his ability, character and NFL potential. His announcement will have no effect on how we see him as a football player," Elway said. "Having spent 16 years in an NFL locker room, the bottom line is that its about treating others with respect and earning that respect. By all indications, it appears Michael has done just that throughout his football career." Several coaches said if a player is accountable and a winner, being gay is a non-issue. "If anybody can come in and help us win games and be successful -- black, white, yellow, straight, gay -- I dont think it matters," said new Green Bay quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt. Before Sam revealed his sexual orientation, the pass-rusher was projected as a mid-round draft pick. Kluwe said reports that Sams draft stock could drop because he revealed his sexual orientation "basically could have been lifted from any American sporting paper in the 1940s when Jackie Robinson was about to enter Major League Baseball. Its like weve been here before. Why do we have to keep doing the same thing?" Sam will likely face even more scrutiny from opponents fans than Chargers linebacker Manti Teo did after getting fooled by a hoax involving a fake girlfriend while at Notre Dame. What will help Sam is landing on a team with strong veteran leadership, something that was lacking in Miami, where tackle Jonathan Martin walked away at midseason, alleging guard Richie Incognito led daily harassment with racial, aggressive and sexually charged comments. Incognito was suspended for the final eight games and Martins career was thrown in limbo. Former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said Sams performance on the field and as a teammate should quickly overshadow any stereotypes about sexual orientation. "I dont think he faces any challenges as a player. I dont think he faces a lot of challenges as a person," Cooley said. "I think once he establishes himself as the kind of teammate hes going to be, I think everybody will accept it fine." Eagles All-Pro guard Evan Mathis said Sam will face obstacles no matter what. "NFL players shouldnt judge Michael Sam based on his sexuality but some guys will. MLB players shouldnt have judged Jackie Robinson based on his skin colour but some did," Mathis said. "Whether or not the NFL is ready for it, it needs to happen. There are still people on this Earth who lived through the prohibition of alcohol and the Civil Rights movement. They can look back and reflect on how primitive those times were. "Current generations will look back at marijuana prohibition and gays having to fight for equal rights and think how primitive those times were." Josh Hart Jersey . Raonic, the No. 8 seed from Thornhill, Ont., fired 11 aces and did not have a double-fault as he comfortably advanced to the third round at the Masters Series event. Al-Farouq Aminu Jersey . The Broncos quarterback earned the offensive award Wednesday after passing for 374 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-21 win over the Raiders Monday night. Manning completed 32-of-37 passes and had a passer rating of 135.TORONTO -- When Michael Bradley stepped off the plane in Toronto after the United States heartbreaking loss to Belgium at the World Cup, he made his intentions immediately clear. "He came up to me and said, I want to train," said Toronto coach Ryan Nelsen. The 26-year-old midfielder is expected to play Saturday night when Toronto hosts D.C. United, returning to his Major League Soccer squad with mixed feelings about the Americans World Cup run -- sad that it ended when it did but proud of his teams performance. "Theres disappointment for sure because we felt like things had come together in a good way for us, and we felt like there was more there for us," Bradley said after Fridays practice at BMO Field. "Thats sports ... you realize in those moments again how fine the margin is between going home and going on. "I think for every guy on our team there is a huge sense of pride for the way we went about it when the spotlight came on the brightest. For every guy who was there, the commitment, the determination, the willingness to leave everything on the field in every moment was incredible." He rejoins a Toronto team that has been climbing the Eastern Conference standings. TFC is fourth (6-4-3), but with four games in hand over leaders Sporting Kansas City and D.C. United. Striker Jermain Defoe, who was left off Englands roster for the World Cup, said Bradley could easily have requested a week or two off to rest and decompress. "He decided to come in and he wanted to play. Thats brilliant. He had a fantastic World Cup and hes just ready to go," Defoe said. "Great character to say to the manager, Im up for selection, I want to play, I dont need to go away and have a rest." The Americans finished second in Group G, then dropped a 2-1 decision to Belgium in extra time in their dramatic round-of-16 game. "Its always a draining experience in the World Cup, especially when you get eliminated," Nelsen said. "Theres this incredible sense of finality to it, and it can have repercussions. Id be worried if it was any other player other than Michael." Bradley said the feedback from the Belgium game has been unanimous in that it was a great game to watch. "The drama at the end, all the emotion that went into it ... when youre little, those are the games you dream of playing in," Bradley said. "Unfortunately at the end somebody has to be on the losing side but when you get a taste of playing in those kinds of games, you want more." Bradley was overwhelmed by the support the team received in Brazil. Before their opening game against Ghana in the coastal town of Natal, the local paper reported 30,000 Americans had arrived in town. "Youre thinking, maybe well have a chance to have a home crowd," Bradley said. "We walked onto the field and the national anthem starts and the entire stadium was singing. Thats a special feeling, to be playing in a World Cup representing your country, thousands of miles away from home but having the entire stadium full of Americans. JJ Redick Jersey. "The atmosphere, the people and the support pushed us on in such a big way." The success of the Americans, and the amount of attention paid to the team in North America, was seen as a big thumbs-up to MLS. Commissioner Don Garber posted on Twitter moments after the Americans elimination: "We proved to the world we are a soccer nation!" Six starters on the U.S. team, including star striker Clint Dempsey, play in the MLS, plus several other countries boast MLS players -- TFC keeper Julio Cesar is Brazils starting keeper, Australian international Tim Cahill plays for the New York Red Bulls, to name two. "Were all realistic, we all know the MLS is not THE best league in the world yet, but its on the right path, its growing, its continuing to improve, the quality gets better and better," Bradley said. "And when you get to the World Cup and see the number of players who come out of this league and have done well, and had a big impact on whats gone on there, you cant help but have respect for what goes on here on a weekly basis." The league recently attracted a couple more big stars. Spains all-time leading goalscorer David Villa is headed to New York City FC, while Kaka, a Brazilian and former star for Real Madrid and AC Milan, recently signed with Orlando. Theyre both expansion teams that will make their league debuts next season. Defoe called the recently Kaka news a "massive signing. Such a massive name." "Someone who has achieved so much in the game, great footballer, still has a lot to offer," he said. "The names just keep coming and coming and its only going to help the league. And obviously for me, I sit back and think Im so glad that Ive come over here, and just to be a part of it all is really good." Bradley, who tried to make time to watch Torontos games online when he was in Brazil, is excited to rejoin a team that looks poised for its first playoff appearance in franchise history. Toronto marked the end of the MLS break for the World Cup by tying the Red Bulls 2-2 on the road on Wednesday night, dictating much of the play before relinquishing the lead when the Red Bulls scored in the third minute of injury time. "Credit to all the players, and obviously the manager and staff ... were just improving each day, taking small steps but really improving as a team," Defoe said. Defoe scored the lone goal of the game when TFC beat D.C. United 1-0 in their second game of the season. "Weve played them already this season but we know theyve improved since then and we feel weve improved also," said captain Steven Caldwell. "So it should be a really good game, hopefully an attacking game. We feel for us weve really improved in that area, were looking very dangerous when we go forward, we just have to make sure weve got that nice balance and were tight at the back." Toronto plays its next three games at home. After Saturday, they host Houston on July 12, then the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 16. ' ' '