Michael Sam confirmed to Oprah what we already know to be true — there are many closeted athletes in the NFL. What we didn’t know is that a few of them reached out to Michael during his media frenzy to offer support and show respect.
“A very few reached out to me and pretty much just told me their gratitude and how thankful they were that I had the courage [to come out],” Sam said in the interview, which will be shown on OWN on Saturday night. “They wished that they had the courage to come out.”
Oprah tries pushing him to get specific — “Very few meaning one, two, three, five?” Michael doesn’t take the bait. “Very few,” he replies.
Earlier this year, NFL Executive Vice President of Operations Troy Vincent reflected on his time playing for the Dolphins from ’92-’95, saying:
“I’m not going to share their names, but in my 15 years, there were six individuals who were at least openly gay in the locker room, no problem. From my days in Miami until I ended in Washington, they were just my teammates. Just like my family members. We ate together, we flew together, they’re roommates in hotel rooms. It was what it was.”
Sam was cut by the Cowboys in October and has not been signed by another team, something he has suggested might have something to do with him being openly gay.