ADL Encourages All NFL Teams to Judge Michael Sam Only by his Football Proficiency

New York, NY, February 13, 2014…The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today applauded Michael Sam, a defensive lineman from the University of Missouri and likely top NFL draft pick, who is the first NCAA Division I college football player to come out as a gay man.

ADL encouraged NFL teams to judge all players by their athletic proficiency and affirm that sexual orientation is irrelevant to ability to play and to contribute to the success of a team.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

We applaud Michael Sam’s courage to come out in advance of the NFL draft and commend the NFL’s strong statement welcoming and supporting his decision.  The teams that have affirmed that an individual’s sexual orientation is irrelevant to his ability to do his job are to be commended, and we encourage the teams that have expressed reservations about the NFL’s readiness for a gay athlete to reconsider and follow suit.

Conversations about whether or not Michael Sam’s decision will affect his draft prospects highlight the need for Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  That legislation would expand existing federal employment discrimination coverage to include protection for those denied equal employment opportunities based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Employment decisions should be made based on merit, performance, and abilities and never on the basis of an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.