Jan 3, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) runs on the field before the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at the 2014 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Missouri beat Oklahoma State 41-31. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Chargers made a bold move during the 2013 draft. They traded up 9 spots in the 2nd round to select Manti Te’o out of Notre Dame after his poor National Championship game, poor combine, but most importantly, his catfish scandal. The Chargers made waves with that pick. Not due to the flood of reporters talking to Te’o, but for the lack of them. Coach McCoy and TT had a plan for how they would handle the situation, and they executed it flawlessly.
Te’o was no more of a distraction than anyone else on the team. His name came up more often in wondering when he would return from a foot injury that sidelined him for the first few games of his career. Let’s face it. Manti Te’o may never get past being introduced in articles, news, or even highlights as the one with a catfish scandal, but it doesn’t matter. The media flame died down, and now, regardless of the faint memory of Lennay Kekua and that guy that was way too good at impersonating her, Te’o is just a football player. A developing starter in the NFL.
The plan to restrict media availability to Te’o until the distraction died down has earned the Chargers locker room a reputation for acceptance and trust. So much so that the Michael Sam, who recently admitted his homosexuality, is apparently looking at the Chargers, who desperately need health and talent at OLB, as a potential fit. Here’s what his agent, who is based in LA, had to say about the match (via Michael Gehlken at UT):
“You know, I think the Chargers would be a great fit for him, especially considering the way that they handled the Manti Te’o issue. It seemed to blow over very easily once the first game had happened. I think that’d be a great spot for him to land. And he’d be close to us.”
It is an interesting proposition. Michael Sam was not the player Te’o was in college. Te’o was a superstar that resurrected a once dominant program and could really only fall so far. Sam is a marginal prospect at best, recording 11.5 sacks and 19 TFL this year for Mizzou. He could very well be worth a 4th or 5th pick and the new Chargers regime have shown they can downplay unnecessary media hoopla. Regardless of whether TT and McCoy like him enough as a football player to give him a chance, I have to say I am very proud of the front office for the way they handled Te’o and the culture they built in such a short time.
What do you think? Should we give Michael Sam a chance? How do you think the front office would handle the situation?