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Jason Collins says he met with Michael Sam for a couple days before he came out as gay

Feb 10, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

Missouri v Mississippi Getty Images

Last summer, after a dozen seasons playing in the NBA Jason Collins came out as gay. It was certainly a milestone step and Collins was widely heralded as the first active athlete in a major professional sport to come out as gay.

Except he wasn’t an active player — Collins was a free agent last summer and as of now has yet to even land a 10-day contract with a team. Part of that is tied to the fact that he is an aging NBA veteran with a limited skill set — he is still good at defending in the post but in a league where the teams are going small and bigs have midrange games. His being gay would have been a discussion topic for the handful of teams that should have considered him, it likely not have helped his cause in some organizations. Some teams sadly may not have considered him because he came out, even though they would have come up with other excuses (somehow the 12-year veteran considered a pro’s pro at every stop would suddenly be a locker room distraction). That said Collins was a guy near the end of his career before he came out.

Michael Sam, the Missouri defensive lineman came out as gay Sunday prior to the  NFL draft, is different all together — he is just embarking on his NFL career.

Collins tweeted he spoke with Sam before Sam made his announcement.

Collins heard a lot of things about himself after he came out, most of it good but of course there was the expected backlash from people trying to stem the tide of history. Collins was the right guy — maybe the only guy — for Sam to really talk to about what he was about to experience. (For my money, Joe Posnanski nailed what is happening. I’ll add while a handful of players seemed opposed to a gay man in the locker room the main reaction I heard from players was “if a gay player is good enough and can help this team then get him a jersey.”)

Sam is hearing a lot of talk about his draft status (although that is a pre-draft game anyway) and Collins was simply lending an ear and offering a little advice. It’s also completely in character with who Collins is as a person — a pro’s pro who would mentor younger NBA players on the fine points of the game now can help mentor a guy breaking far larger, more important ground.

  1. asimonetti88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    Good for Michael Sam. The teams that would shy away from him because he is a “distraction” are the same teams that consistently find themselves at the bottom of the standings.

    • azarkhan - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      You know, I’ve always thought that if the Wizards, Cavaliers, Bucks, etc. just had some gay men on their team, they’d be in the playoffs every year.

      • asimonetti88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 6:14 PM

        You missed the point. Any team that lets something as trivial as a players sexual orientation become a distraction is not a well run or close team. When Tim Tebow was on the Jets, he was considered a distraction. When he was on the Patriots, he was not a distraction. He was the same person on both teams. But on the Patriots, their locker room was focused on football and didn’t let any “distractions” come in.

  2. calkinsrob - Feb 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    I know discrimination still occurs so stories like this are news worthy sometimes. But basically every single link on PFT is about this guy. I cant wait till the point where all this stuff doesn’t matter. Just dont be disrespectful to those who are different. Everytime I see a story like this I just dont understand why it NEEDS to be said. just tell your teammates or whatever, no sense in telling the whole world.

    • shanelsweet - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:16 PM

      Did you read the Posnanski article that Kurt linked? It does a pretty decent job of explaining why it makes sense.

    • alexbebeastin - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

      They meet up for drinks, then Collins smashed him. Lololol

      • philtration - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:58 PM

        Must have been hard for you to type that using just your left hand…

  3. yuwannano - Feb 10, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    Damn shame that someone’s sexuality is such an issue. Hopefully this wont hurt his future prospects.

  4. alexbebeastin - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    They meet up for drinks, then Collins smashed him. Lololol

  5. hojo20 - Feb 10, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    It’s not too late for Sam to switch teams.

  6. mauldawg - Feb 10, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    Who the hell cares about either one of the players. Just shut the hell up. Some people are just attention whores. Here are two of them.

  7. telldatruth - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:01 PM

    Everybody, I’m “Straight”

    • antistratfordian - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      1/10. Nice try.

    • asimonetti88 - Feb 10, 2014 at 5:20 PM

      Congratulations. That must have taken a lot of courage knowing all the discrimination you will face.

  8. fearthehoody - Feb 10, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    I smell reality TV show!!!!!!!!!

  9. monkeyjuice313 - Feb 10, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    Brow chick-a brow-ow!

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