Michael Sam, who made history in 2014 when he was the first openly gay football player to be drafted in the NFL, is now speaking out on the recently surfaced Jon Gruden emails that cost him his job.
Sam was speaking at an online event for Augusta University in Georgia when he commented on the Gruden emails, according to USA Today.
“It’s unfortunate especially that the first active gay player who’s playing is on the same team,” he said referencing Carl Nassib, who came out as gay in the offseason and is the first openly gay active NFL player in history.
Gruden stated in one email, according to the New York Times, that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was “fa–ot” and a “clueless anti-football p—y” and argued that Goodell shouldn’t have allegedly pressured then-St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher to draft “queers,” in reference to Sam.
“So it almost seems like you know how the whole team would rally around (Nassib), but again, it almost seems like it was just for show. So are you really a part of it, or are you not?” said Sam.
“It’s moving in that direction (of acceptance), so if you’re not a part of it, you need to find another profession.”
Sam added he would hope the NFL “will definitely crack down on bigotry like that.”
Following Gruden’s departure, Nassib was granted a personal day Thursday amid the fallout from the scandal. He clearly did not want to be bombarded by reporters for his thoughts on an already difficult situation.
Sam was a seventh-round pick of the Rams in 2014 as he came off a year where he was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American in 2013.
Then-Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has since fired back at Gruden’s assertion tat he was forced to take Sam.
“Michael Sam was the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and we selected him in the 2014 NFL Draft based on his defensive production and pass rushing skill set on the field,” Fisher said in a statement. “As a head coach for over 20 years, we drafted or didn’t draft, players based on a variety of qualities. Their sexual orientation would never – and should never – play a part in the decision-making process.”