Missouri Defensive Lineman Michael Sam Could Become the First Openly Gay NFL Player

michael sam comes out

On Sunday, Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam, who was the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American, came out as gay in interviews with ESPN and The New York Times.

His exact words: “I am an openly, proud gay man.”

Despite his outstanding 2013 season, Sam isn’t expected to go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft. However, ESPN Scouts Inc rate Sam as the 12th-best outside pass rusher in the draft, and some analysts do think he will go in the third round. So if that’s the case, Sam will most likely become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL…which would be a big deal.

So why did Sam decide to come out now and possibly risk not getting drafted at all by teams with public relations concerns?

Well, he never kept it that much of a secret to begin with. Sam dated another athlete at the University of Missouri (not another football player) last year, so when he decided to officially come out to his teammates and coaches last August, they were like, “yeah, we knew that.”

“I was kind of scared, even though they already knew.” Sam explained. “Just to see their reaction was awesome. They supported me from Day One… I’m telling you what: I wouldn’t have the strength to do this today if I didn’t know how much support they’d given me this past semester.”

With this positive experience behind him, Sam finally made the decision to come out publicly after playing in the Senior Bowl. “I didn’t realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me,” he said. “I want to own my truth… No one else should tell my story but me.”

As for his potential NFL career, Sam said “I just want to go to the team who drafts me because that team knows about me, knows that I’m gay, and also knows that I work hard. That’s the team I want to go to.”

Since the story broke, the University of Missouri, head football coach Gary Pinkel, and the NFL have released statements of support praising Michael Sam’s courage.

You know what I say? Ditto. I’m not pro gay any more than I’m pro left-handedness, but I am pro equality and anti-ignorance. So way to go, Michael Sam.

Hat Tip – [ESPN]

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