Michael Sam is worth Cowboys’ welcome

09/02/2014 10:00 PM

11/12/2014 8:31 PM

Michael Sam deserves better than this.

It’s unfortunate that he didn’t have any better or more timely offers than Wednesday’s look-see from the One Team Guaranteed to Get Him on TMZ every night.

Don’t misunderstand. No one should be suggesting that the possibility of the Dallas Cowboys’ signing Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player, was just another publicity grab for Owner Jones. This isn’t like signing Terrell Owens or selling Hublot watches.

Don’t misunderstand. The Cowboys’ defense desperately needs help. Injuries and attrition have cost them their three best defensive players from a year ago, and that defense was historically awful as it was.

They need pass rushers. They need somebody who, at the least, can rush the quarterback until rookie end DeMarcus Lawrence returns after midseason.

All may apply. Sexual orientation should have nothing to do with it. All along, from draft day when he was picked 249th by the Rams until now, Sam has deserved to be judged solely by his ability to help an NFL team.

A desperate defensive football team, all the better.

The Cowboys are so desperate, Jerry Jones is shamelessly eager to get Josh Brent back in uniform, even though Brent’s drunk driving killed a teammate.

The announcement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office Tuesday that defensive lineman Brent can seek full reinstatement after 10 games is disappointing. It should have been longer. The wording of the announcement suggested, however, that the league felt that Brent’s trial and jail times should be factored into his suspension — 30 regular-season games since the 2012 fatal accident.

I get it. But Jones continues to shrug away the unsettling fact that Brent, by his reckless drunk driving, killed a Cowboys teammate, practice squad member Jerry Brown.

I’ve asked this question in print before, but it bears re-asking: What if Brent had killed, heaven forbid, one of the team’s best players? Would Jones — and loyal Cowboys fans — be so anxious to forgive and re-welcome him?

But that’s how bankrupt the Cowboys’ defense is. Lawrence had foot surgery, which means a slow recovery may be unavoidable. And who knows how much defensive end Anthony Spencer will be able to contribute, when he returns from microfracture knee surgery?

The revolving door that marked the Cowboys’ 2013 defensive depth chart has already started churning. Lavar Edwards? Jack Crawford?

Edwards isn’t a pass-rush guy and he didn’t even start full-time in college for LSU.

Sam, on the other hand, was a co-winner last season of the Southeastern Conference’s defensive player of the year award. He makes plays, and the Cowboys have been virtually bereft of defensive playmakers.

It’s too bad, though, that Sam’s first regular-season professional team is probably going to be the Hollywood Cowboys, the self-proclaimed (as Owner Jones announced last week) “glitz and glamour” kings of the NFL.

Jerry welcomes TMZ — and all the pop media TV shows, for that matter. Wait until Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood see that at AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys’ showers are right in the middle of the locker room. Just when we thought two weeks ago that common sense had replaced medieval thinking amongst the NFL media, ESPN proved otherwise.

But for Sam, a job is a job. Hopefully, he gets to play for the Cowboys. Hopefully for them, Sam can help rescue a defense that needs it.

Michael Sam probably deserved a quieter place to make NFL history. But a welcome is a welcome, as long as the glitz is sincere.

About Gil LeBreton

Gil LeBreton


Gil LeBreton has been entertaining and informing Star-Telegram readers for more than 34 years. He worked for newspapers in his hometown of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Kansas City and Baltimore before finding his true home in Texas. Over the years he's covered 25 Super Bowls, 16 Olympic Games (9 summer, 7 winter), soccer's World Cup, the Masters, the Tour de France, saw Muhammad Ali box, Paul Newman drive a race car and Prince Albert try to steer a bobsled.

A Vietnam veteran, Gil and his wife Gail have two children -- J.P., a computer game designer in San Francisco, and Elise, an actress living in New York. Gil also once briefly held the WBC Junior Welterweight title belt -- he had to, because the guy he was interviewing, champ Bruce Curry, had to suddenly step into the men's room.

Email Gil at gilebreton@star-telegram.com

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