If Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, a South Florida native and son of Haitian immigrants, can play alongside Curtis Lofton, a teammate from a tiny Oklahoma town -- finding common ground in their passion for the game -- a heterosexual man can do the same with a gay teammate.
That's the best way I can explain the lack of impact, let alone distraction, Michael Sam, should have this fall after he settles into his first NFL season.
On Sunday, Sam announced publicly what his University of Missouri teammates and others in the college town of Columbia already knew: he is gay.
Sam is poised to become the first openly-gay player actively playing in one of America's big three sports leagues. Others have come out -- most after their careers. In the NBA, free agent center Jason Collins made his announcement last April, more than a decade into his career, his financial future set. He hasn't, however, landed on an NBA roster.
Perhaps his skills have eroded, perhaps teams now believe his athletic potential is outweighed by the unwanted attention his sexuality would garner.
Sam won't have that option. The NFL draft is in April.
He came out, first, because he had no choice, he said.
He was going to tell his story or in the coming weeks, media outlets would have told it for him. It was also strategy as the draft approaches, where analysts expect him to be taken in the first three rounds.
Bad publicity, from cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones' numerous arrests during his time with the Tennessee Titans to New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, whose murder trial will take place later this year, have caused NFL teams to take closer looks at draft prospects.
It's unfortunate, but Sam's sexual preference may be viewed as a distraction, the same as New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith being kicked off an airplane, Tim Tebow's equally polarizing-yet-refreshing persona, former Dallas and Chicago receiver Sam Hurd being sentenced to 15 years for his role in a major drug case.
I'm wondering at what point will we stop pretending that gay athletes and other entertainers are a new phenomenon. They've always been there. Sam told the New York Times when he told Missouri teammates he was gay earlier this season, many of their faces had an expression of, "Finally, he came out."
We're treating pro athletes as if they don't have gay friends; like they didn't see the same-sex marriage moment last month at the Grammys; as if they don't attend many of the places we go, and haven't been equally exposed.
Thanks to a few knucklehead NFLers.
Last week, Vilma told the NFL Network that a gay teammate would not be accepted as much as society might think.
"I don't want people to just naturally assume, like, 'Oh, we're all homophobic.' That's really not the case," Vilma said. "Imagine if he's the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me. How am I supposed to respond?"
Chances are, Vilma, a gay teammate has already seen you in the shower.
Gary Estwick, a correspondent covering the Saints for the Sun Herald, can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Facebook and Twitter@EstwickSaints.