Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam is quickly becoming an American hero after publicly announcing that he’s gay while striving to be the first open figure to play in the NFL. He is being viewed as a major inspiration to others and the move is a big one for a social issue that has been moving to the forefront of American culture for many years now. In fact, many are already deeming Sam a “modern day Jackie Robinson” — of course, Robinson broke the racial barrier by becoming the first African-American player in the modern MLB in 1947:
Mizzou’s Michael Sam is todays Jackie Robinson. #MichaelSam
— Mike Ubben (@cards45) February 10, 2014
Is Michael Sam the new Jackie Robinson? #bigsbuzz
— Daniel Vasquez (@ConsumerDan) February 10, 2014
One day there will be a movie about Michael Sam and how he broke social barriers just like Jackie Robinson.
— Joey Meinema (@JoeMeinema) February 10, 2014
I watched the movie “42” last night for the first time. Similar to Jackie Robinson, I hope Michael Sam is a pioneer and not an outcast.
— Peter Lubell (@lubell411) February 10, 2014
While not everyone is enjoying this comparison, as Robinson’s struggle was a bit more dramatic and he experienced much less social support at the time, those making the comparisons were amazed again today when Michael Sam was given the No. 42 to wear at the NFL Combine this year — naturally, Robinson’s number — by random chance:
Combine uniform numbers are assigned alphabetically by group. Michael Sam will be DL…42. Can’t make this up.
— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) February 10, 2014
Michael Sam wearing number 42 at the combine. Breaking barriers just like Jackie
— Joe (@JCiango) February 10, 2014
Michael Sam was invited to the #NFL Combine as a DL. His assigned number is 42. Another trailblazer.
— Dré (@Andy_Fenelon) February 10, 2014
Fitting. “@richeisen: Combine uniform numbers are assigned alphabetically by group. Michael Sam will be DL…42. Can’t make this up.”
— Mike Colombo (@Mike_Colombo) February 10, 2014
Awesome: “@richeisen: NFL combine uniform numbers are assigned alphabetically by group. Michael Sam will be DL…42. Can’t make this up.”
— Nu Wexler (@wexler) February 10, 2014
Ultimately, whether or not Sam is ultimately revered as much as Robinson is irrelevant — Robinson is an American icon and hero who many people look up to, and if anyone can draw comparisons to him in any way, that’s pretty impressive. Sam is definitely making a big splash right now, and people should appreciate what he’s doing for what it is, and not what it isn’t.