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After former Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam, 24, on Sunday revealed that he was gay, some questioned whether his prospects in the NFL would be hurt by the revelation.
Longtime Texas sportscaster Dale Hansen is hoping that's not the case. He shared an essay on his show this week that has gone viral.
Hansen speaks to Here & Now's Robin Young about why Michael Sam should be celebrated and gay players should be welcomed in the NFL.
On feedback he's received about his remarks
"I was expecting a great deal of negative backlash, and I've actually had very little. I've had more than 2,600 emails sent to me from almost every state in the union, from Australia, from England, and 95 percent have been supportive, and that's been not only gratifying, but quite honestly, it's been somewhat surprising."
"I do think my contribution was being perceived as a guy from a very conservative state who's simply an old white guy, and I think it surprised a lot of people that I took this stance, and I think that elevated the debate so that, as you say, it went viral."
On his hopes for acceptance of gay players
"I do think there's just a big difference between being in that proverbial closet and being open. I think it's gonna be a hard road for Michael Sam, but what I am encouraged by is just listening to him talk. He seems to be a young man of great character, of great inner-strength, and if somebody has to pick up this sword and lead this fight, he might be one of the most well-equipped young men to do it. And I certainly hope so, because as we saw in the SportsIllustrated.com article, eight different NFL officials — quoted anonymously, of course — saying that they would not be comfortable with a gay man in the locker room, and yet, they welcome so many others who have committed such heinous crimes. And it just offends me, the hypocrisy of that position. I'm hoping that, obviously, that will begin to change."
This story aired on February 14, 2014.
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