Missouri football player Michael Sam spoke spoken publicly for the first time about his sexual orientation. In an article in the New York Times on Sunday, Sam announced that he was gay.
While there have been other athletes who have come out about their sexuality, Sam is the first player to open up as he begins his quest to start a professional career. The 6’2, 260 pound, defensive end, was voted most valuable defensive player by his teammates. His current draft stock has him potentially being picked in the third round.
The NFL is the largest professional sports organization in the U.S. Rarely is a player who is projected that high for the NFL draft cut. So, if Sam were to make an NFL roster, he would become the first player to publicly announce that he is gay.
“I’m not naïve,” Sam told the Times. “I know this is a huge deal and I know how important this is. But my role as of right now is to train for the combine and play in the NFL.”
Sam talks about opening up. Video courtesy New York Times.
The NFL released a statement late Sunday night, “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the N.F.L. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
While the league is supportive, there is still an uncertainty amongst it’s players of how Sam will be received by potential teammates. In fact, last offseason, there was an NFL scout who asked a potential draftee if he had a girlfriend.
Yet after Sam’s experience at Missouri, when he told his teammates during a team building exercise in August, he is comfortable that things will work out in the NFL. Sam also appeared on ESPN Sunday night.
“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” said Mr. Sam, who also spoke with ESPN on Sunday. “I just want to own my truth.”