Bills should get over any 'distraction' Michael Sam might bring and give him a chance - The Buffalo News

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Bills should get over any 'distraction' Michael Sam might bring and give him a chance

Three players in the NFL had more sacks than Michael Sam this preseason.

For that reason alone, it's hard to believe he remains unemployed in a league that's constantly looking for players with ability to rush the passer. His performance this preseason with the St. Louis Rams -- who cut him Saturday -- would seem to make him worthy of at least a spot on some team's practice squad.

But that hasn't happened yet for Sam, who is attempting to become the first openly gay player on an active NFL roster.

Late Sunday night, Bills center Eric Wood weighed in on Twitter with why he thinks that's the case in a response to a question posed by Ross Tucker, a former Buffalo offensive lineman who is now an analyst for NBC Sports Network and SiriusXM NFL Radio.

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Ah, yes, the dreaded "distraction." Earlier this year, Drew Magary wrote a brilliant column for Deadspin (warning: link contains NSFW language) that lays out all the reasons why this idea is horribly flawed. A sampling: "All the neurotic talk about 'distractions' reveals a funny thing about the locker room. It's as if the psyche of a football team is some impossibly delicate thing that cracks the second the outside world sneaks in."

Would adding Sam to the practice squad temporarily bring some extra news cameras to practice? Absolutely.

What he's attempting to do is nothing short of historic. But a few weeks would go by, and the story would fade. Sam would become just another practice squad player.

And even if it didn't, or if he made the active roster and the national media again descended on One Bills Drive, would those few extra TV cameras and questions from reporters be some great hindrance to what the team is trying to accomplish in 2014? Hardly.

The Bills have gone 28-52 in the five years Wood has been with the team -- without a distraction to be found.

Perhaps it's unfair to single Wood out. At least he's admitting to the terrible groupthink that permeates the NFL. The Bills are just one of 32 NFL teams seemingly worried about the "distraction" of Sam's presence.

But, for once, it would be nice to see the team actually think outside the box on something. When Russ Brandon took over as president on New Year's Day 2013, he spoke of it being a "new era."

"It is time to start, create and lead this franchise into the future with a new legacy," Brandon said at the time. "I can promise you that this will be a forward-thinking, progressive and attacking organization heading into the future."

Since that time, how many decisions have fit that criteria? The trade up for Sammy Watkins in the draft at the expense of a 2015 first-round draft pick probably qualifies. Anything else?

Bucking the trend and getting over any fear of the mysterious "distractions" signing a player like Sam might bring would be a step in that direction.

For a team that's been sued by its cheerleaders and fans this offseason, seen its star defensive tackle arrested twice and another one get busted for DWI after police saw him puking out of the driver's-side door, signing Sam to the practice squad might even bring with it a positive public relations boost.

A welcome "distraction," if you will.

But that would be secondary.

His play on the field this preseason has shown Sam is worthy of a job. The Bills currently have two defensive ends on their practice squad -- Ike Igbinosun and Bryan Johnson -- who combined for four tackles and one sack this preseason.

To this point, Johnson's most noteworthy moment in a Bills uniform came late in training camp, when he was in the middle of a brawl with Wood, during which the center screamed "I'll f------ kill you!" at the rookie.

Now that, to me, sounds like a distraction.

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