John M. Becker

Green Bay Packers Coach: Our Team Welcomes All Players

Filed By John M. Becker | February 11, 2014 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: football, gay athletes, Green Bay, Green Bay Packers, LGBT athletes, Michael Sam, Mike McCarthy, NFL

mike-mccarthy.jpgYesterday, during a scheduled media day in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told members of the press that any player, regardless of sexual orientation, is absolutely welcome on his team as long as he can play professional-level football.

Speaking about Michael Sam, the University of Missouri star defensive lineman and NFL draft prospect who came out as gay last weekend, McCarthy said:

"I think you definitely have to feel that he's a courageous young man, but my understanding is that he's a talented player. We've always from day one talked about our program and our culture. Ted [Thompson, general manager] and I are going through the draft process right now, and at the end of the day it comes down to good football players. Any player that can come here and be a good teammate, follow the rules of our program which is one, be respectful and produce on the football field, we've got room for that guy."

Assistant coaches Winston Moss and Alex Van Pelt both echoed McCarthy's pledge that the Green Bay Packers are a team that does not discriminate. Said Van Pelt,

"That's very courageous on his part, there's no question. If anybody can come in and help us win games and be successful -- black, white, yellow, straight, gay -- I don't think it matters. As long as you're a good person and you're respectful in the locker room to each other, then you can help us win on Sundays and are welcome."

Seeing these words brings a swell of hometown pride to this Green Bay native's heart. The Packers are a religion in my hometown -- and understandably so, because they're the best team in the NFL -- so inclusive, pro-LGBT statements like this from the team's head coach and staff will go along way towards both combating homophobia in football and reshaping the dialogue around LGBT equality in Wisconsin.

Well done, Packers!

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