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Tuesday February 11th, 2014

All-American defensive end Michael Sam had 11 sacks and 45 tackles last season for Missouri. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp) All-American defensive end Michael Sam had 10.5 sacks and 45 tackles last year for Missouri. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith ripped anonymous NFL general managers and executives who said former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam damaged his draft stock by announcing he is gay.

In reports by Sports Illustrated and, some general managers said they thought Sam's draft stock would be hurt by his announcement and one general manager said he didn't think Sam would be drafted at all.

BURKE: Any Michael Sam draft drop will be because of money, like all else in the NFL

"When you contrast a group of anonymous GMs against a 24-year-old college player, it seems like only one of them had the guts to put his name behind his message," Smith said to Comcast SportsNet Washington. "So my first reaction has nothing to do with Michael Sam. My reaction is to call those GMs for what they are -- they're gutless.

"If a young man has the courage to stand up and put his name and his face to talk about what he thinks is important, I would expect that a grown man can do exactly the same thing. But apparently they can't."

Sam, the SEC's co-defensive player of the year last season, currently is projected to be a mid-round pick in May's NFL draft.

"I'm not Pollyanna about it, certainly, but my hope would be that in the same way that every player is graded by what he can accomplish on the field, that would be exactly the same standard that you'd want to apply to every player."

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