A Dallas sportscaster is earning praise after defending the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. That player, Missouri's defensive lineman Michael Sam, announced on Sunday that he is gay.
Dale Hansen has anchored sports reports at ABC affiliate WFAA since 1983. He started his " Unplugged" segment on Monday by noting that Sam came out to the world and that he was projected to be picked in the third to fifth round of the NFL draft. Hansen then offered up what he believes was the most alarming part of the story.
"The best defensive player in college football's best conference only a third to fifth round NFL pick? Really?" Hansen asked incredulously. "That is shocking, and I guess that other thing is, too."
The TV anchor referenced a Sports Illustrated article that quoted anonymous NFL executives saying that Sam's draft stock would be affected by his announcement. Also in the report, an NFL player personnel assistant said an NFL locker room is not ready to embrace its first openly gay player.
Hansen began to list the types of men that are currently embraced.
"You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots? You're the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft," he said. "You kill people while driving drunk? That guy's welcome. Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes? We know they're welcome. Players accused of rape and pay the woman to go away? You lie to police trying to cover up a murder? We're comfortable with that."
And then, Hansen exposes what he sees as the hypocrisy in all this.
"You love another man? Well, now you've gone too far!"
The Peabody Award winner believes the same people who thought the NFL wasn't ready for a black quarterback think the same about gay players. He cannot comprehend why people who want less government in their lives "want government in our bedrooms."
He also admits that he doesn't understand a gay man's world and that he isn't always comfortable when a man says he is gay.
But he sums up his perspective with a quote from activist Audre Lorde: "It is not our differences that divide us. It's our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."
This isn't Hansen's first brush with notoriety. He, along with producer John Sparks, broke one of the largest scandals in U.S. sports history. The two found that Southern Methodist University had been paying certain players, a clear violation of NCAA rules. The consequence was the notorious "death penalty" for SMU's 1987 football season.
Hansen's speech on WFAA has picked up many fans, with more than 42,000 recommends on Facebook. Fans there also supported his "Unplugged" segment in the comments. One person wrote, "Great commentary. Touchdown Hansen!" Another added, "Thank you for being such a positive and intelligent voice representing Texas right now."