Jim Schwartz on Michael Sam: 'Make as little deal about it as necessary'
updated 12:36 PM , June 23, 2015
New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz suggested he would all but ignore Michael Sam's sexuality if the openly gay lineman joined the Buffalo Bills.
Schwartz was a guest on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville. He remains popular there. He was on the Tennessee Titans' staff from 1999 (the Music City Miracle season) through 2008, rising to defensive coordinator before the Detroit Lions hired him as head coach.
Zone co-hosts Frank Wycheck (yes, that Frank Wycheck) and Kevin Ingram asked Schwartz how he'd handle Sam's situation if the Bills were to draft the Southeastern Conference's defensive player of the year at Missouri.
Sam announced Sunday night he is gay. He's projected to be a middle-round draft choice and would be the first openly gay, active NFL player.
"I think you make as little deal about it as necessary," Schwartz said. "There's a lot of different people in that locker room, and we're not just talking about sexual orientation. We're talking about different personalities, different ages, different likes, dislikes, everything else."
Schwartz echoed comments made Monday night by Wall of Famer Bill Polian and others, who insisted commitment and performance should be the only worthwhile factors for a developing player.
"Part of being on a team sport is you respect everybody that's in your locker room," Schwartz said. "The thing that players care about -- and I think I can speak for players here -- players care about whether the guy is committed to the team, whether he's a hard-working player, whether they can count on him, whether they can trust him and whether he can help them win the game.
"If Sam proves that he can do those things, he's going to be accepted not just in a Titans locker room or a Buffalo Bills locker room. He'll be accepted across the NFL because that's the bottom line in this game: Production, and players respect production. Anything else is secondary."