Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from the University of Missouri, publicly revealed that he’s gay on Sunday, creating the possibility he’ll be the first openly gay player drafted by the National Football League.
“I came to tell the world I’m an openly gay, proud man,” Sam said in an interview with ESPN.
He said he told his Missouri teammates in August and suffered no repercussions. He said he was surprised to discover many people in the media already knew he was gay.
“I understand how big this is,” Sam said in the ESPN interview. “It’s a big deal. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be … I want to be a football player in the NFL.”
Sam, at 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, starred in college football last season. Besides being first team All-American, he was named the top defensive player in the Southeastern Conference, considered the nation’s best league. Teammates named him the team’s most valuable player.
With those credentials, he’s expected to be picked in the NFL draft in May. The Bleacher Report mock draftprojected him to go in the late rounds because “athletic limitations including a lack of flexibility and a lack of optimal size are concerning.”
The NFL issued a statement on Twitter Sunday: “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
However, the NFL has made headlines on the issue of sexual orientation in the past. Last year, a University of Colorado player said an NFL team asked him if he liked girls and had a girlfriend.
The NFL quickly said, “Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.”
Sam issued his own Tweet: “I want to thank everybody for their support and encouragement,especially @espn, @nytimes and @nfl. I am proud to tell my story to the world!”
Other athletes have come out as gay, but they didn’t have Sam’s profile.
Source: CNN | Ralph Ellis