Michael Sam, All-American defensive lineman from Missouri Tigers and voted by teammates as the state’s most valuable player, says he is an open and proud gay man in interviews with both the New York Times and ESPN.
The 24-year-old, who was also named the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year, is expected to be chosen during the early rounds of the NFL draft in May. Sam reveals he came out to his fellow Tigers during a team-building exercise last year. “I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out,” Sam told the Times.
Asked by ESPN how he felt during that moment Sam replied, “I was kind of scared, even though they already knew. Just to see their reaction was awesome. They supported me from Day One. I couldn’t have better teammates. … 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.”
Sam made it clear that his teammates, coaches and administrators have been very supportive and added that some straight team members have accompanied him to gay bars and the gay pride event in St. Louis last summer.
The decision to come out publicly was made, Sam said, because he sensed rumors about his orientation were already circulating.
“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” Sam told NYT. “I just want to own my truth.”
The 6-3, 260-pound athlete is aware that his public revelation will be greeted with a mix of different reactions. “There will be negativity, negative reactions,” Sam said. “I expect that. … Everyone can say hurtful things and hateful things; I don’t let stuff like that distract me. But there are going to be positives. The positives will outweigh the negative.”
Let’s hope this will inspire other NFL prospects and players to find the courage to make sure that while Sam will likely be the first openly gay player, he won’t be the only one.
GLAAD notified Queerty the NFL quickly released a statement that reads, “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.”
Congratulations! Good luck to him and I hope he gets selected by a decent team. Of course, now that he’s out, I hope he’s not blackballed like Kerry Rhodes. I can’t even imagine what he might face but I’m glad he’s able to be himself. Good for him.
I hope Jonathan Vilma’s team picks this guy.
Oh, poor thing. Shame to see his career kissed off like that.
Of course, I’d *like*to be wrong about that and see him have a wonderful career, but I guess cynicism and hopes about people being generally good being shot to hell has jaded me.
I wish him good luck.
Much respect to Michael Sam. I’m glad there is now an openly gay college player and soon to be NFL player. He is a very talented player and I have no doubt that he will be drafted into the NFL and I wish him nothing but the best. The day that it is no longer a story that a player is gay, will be a great day.
@aces1218: I guess technically this is the first openly gay college football player since the one a couple of weeks ago only came out as bi.
wow. this is huge news. every expert is saying he will play in the NFL, barring injury. congrats to him.
Great to see such bravery! Wishing him much success!
Wow such bravery, and he’s ridiculously sexy.
He is very courageous and it looks like he has a lot of support as well because he will need it in the coming months and years if his NFL career has longevity. We live in a hateful society, America is full of bigotry and a lot of nasty things will be said and thrown his way. I can only wish him all the best, being the first is never easy.
Aaron Rodgers here’s looking at you coward. Bet you’ll ask him for his number though..
This article has nothing to do with trainys and the language we are allowed to use. It just doesn’t belong here.
@wagnerwallace: he is indeed sexy!
There, there let’s be nice. If Aaron is gay, and that is a very big IF, he could take some lessons on bravery and courage from this guy.
Good for him!
@queerty this is the type of stories you guys should be doing. He is an out gay male doing good things. There is no need to try to out players, when real men are leading the way. This kid has made me a fan for life and I hope the Lions land him. Let the boys in the closet remain because you guys are really bad at those stories.
@DShucking: Yea, I think it’s also a bigger deal because Sam will be an NFL player in May and as a result, the first openly gay NFL player
So proud of this young man, and I hope there is an NFL team brave and ready enough to sign him. He’s incredibly talented, was beloved by his Missouri teammates, and have an impact far beyond the NFL. I especially hope whichever team signs him has a comprehensive approach to support him and his teammates. That’ll be key.
@aces1218: But has he already been confirmed to have been chosen by an NFL team?
@DShucking: no, but he’s a great player and was graded to be likely selected in the 3rd or 4th round. I’m confident that he will be selected and if he isn’t, then it’s a little suspicious
@aces1218: Then there is still a chance that this could derail him. There was another person, I don’t remember who because I don’t follow sports, who was saying that he wasn’t picked because he was gay. I hope all eyes are on this one.
@DShucking: Could you be referring to Wade Davis? He was a talented college football player, but never quite made it past training camp in the NFL. He now works with the ‘You Can Play’ organization, and helped Conner Mertens (the bisexual kicker from Willamette College in Oregon) on coming out a couple weeks ago.
@NG22: That might be him.
Then on the negative side you have this Sports Illustrated article quoting 8 anonymous executives and coaches saying that Sam’s stock has dropped due to his coming out.
Here’s some quotes: “”I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant. “In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”
“If Sam is among that group of players, the potential distraction of his presence — both in the media and the locker room — could prevent him from being selected.
“That will break a tie against that player,” the former general manager said. “Every time. Unless he’s Superman. Why? Not that they’re against gay people. It’s more that some players are going to look at you upside down. Every Tom, Dick and Harry in the media is going to show up, from Good Housekeeping to the Today show. A general manager is going to ask, ‘Why are we going to do that to ourselves?'”
And “An NFL assistant coach called Sam’s decision “not a smart move,” as he said it “legitimately affects [his] potential earnings.” It wasn’t lost on the NFL executives that former NBA player Jason Collins, who came out last April in a Sports Illustrated story, hasn’t been signed by an NBA team this year.
“You shouldn’t have to live your life in secrecy,” the assistant coach said, “but do you really want to be the top of the conversation for everything without ever having played a down in this league?”
There’s that and more from this group of anonymous cowards at http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/college-football/news/20140209/michael-sam-draft-stock/
Looks like NFL talks a good game about tolerance but based on the above, it’s all talk. We’ll see what excuses they’re going to come up with if this young guy really does get shafted due to his coming out.
if he’s not drafted, with the impressive stats he has- it will be pretty definitive how the NFL truly feels about gay players in the NFL.
@xzall: well- if we had ENDA, he could sue if a team didn’t draft him…maybe a few of the states that have it will pass and he could sue them. Let’s hope someone takes the chance- they’ll never know til they try!
I know it’s sad but I hope his stock isn’t affected by his announcement. The NFL talks a good game but what happens in the upcoming draft will tell.
On a lighter side that means he could sack Kaepernick, Rodgers, Romo, Brady, both Mannings, and Wilson. Man, what a lucky son of a gun;-)
This is huge news. He is amazingly talented and was ferocious in SEC play last year. If he takes that talent to the NFL, the biggest sport in the world behind soccer, then he will do wonders for our community. Sexy as hell doesn’t hurt either.
He is a man of courage and honor. I wish him great success.
I can’t stand sports but I am living and dying by headlines like this indicating milestones that we might reach.
I wish this young man all the success and happiness his heart can contain. I won’t think about the possible negatives at this moment, instead I’ll just allow the pride I feel for Michael Sam to set in.
Wha`t a babe wha`t babe; how sweet. No wonders! black men are, so hotter then whites for sure.
Michael Sam is the Jackie Robinson of our times.
Please don’t let him get drafted by the Bears. I’m a Packers fan and I want to be able to buy his jersey.
This fills me both with great hope and dread.
If he doesn’t get picked it would completely disturb my view of the NFL. I almost wish he chose to come out after he was selected. Cause now he might’ve put the teams on the spot.
What if he doesn’t get picked? I usually don’t pay too close attention to the draft, but now I might be slightly nervous.
I watched the Last Superbowl, It was very boring but the players were hot. A few set off my Gaydar, lol. There were a few who i felt are “suspect” and i like the DL guys. so there are gay players out there just DLing lol
Trans women are terrified and will attack him because they spent so much time rejecting masculinity to please the hetero society!
Black GAYS are winning in this Obama equality era. Bow down!
“I’m not afraid to tell the world of who I am; I’m Michael Sam, I’m a college graduate, I’m AFRICAN AMERICAN, and I’m GAY” ….. and what?
…and smokin’ hot. Suddenly, I’m a sports-fan.
Hopefully since he did it so publicly it will be too obvious if the NFL tries to manufacture fake evidence to claim he is ineligible or to get some doctor to claim that he has a career ending condition.
Good for Same, I wish him the best of luck!!
Good for him (even though it seems he might have gone public because of rumors going around). Too bad the writer of this article decided to act like a child and take a shot at Aaron Rodgers.
After thinking about it I now think he maybe should have waited till after he was signed to come out. Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s wonderful he was able to come out on his own terms but everyone knows the NFL may talk a good game but will do something else completely
Different. If his stock goes down, people may wonder if it’s because of his announcement.
At this moment in his career, Rodgers is too entrenched in the NFL culture. I imagine officials in the league will try to kill any confirming stories about him or at least circle the wagons around him. I agree with you that mainstream reporters may be reluctant to ask him about Lanflisi but remember most of them are sports reporters, not gossip columnists. I even recall an article about how most mainstream reporters don’t even consider gossip columnists or entertainment bloggers real journalists. Ah well, we’ll see.
there’s already news out of the NFL that several coaches/etc have down graded him/his prospects….THIS is the guy who deserves the pride parade- he did it right- no pussy footing- we keep going gaga over a guy who’s yet to say the word gay or bi- this guy deserves the accolades!! And yes- quacka/pyro- I’m entitled to have an opinion- so fuck off and die already!!!
That took courage, but he might have been wiser to wait until after the draft.
It’s certainly brave.. maybe I am cynical but I don’t think he will get accepted into the NFL.. look at what they did to Chris Klewe and Brandon from the Ravens.. and they were str8! I personally think he should have waited until the contracts were signed
Well done that man!
I give him credit for his courage. But they’re already downgrading him and that will be their excuse for not picking him. Then this experience will dissuade others. I’m sorry, I wish it wasn’t the case and if it turns out not to be then it’s awesome.
two days later “he is not gay. he’s engaged to a lovely christian woman.”
I have high hopes. I like his attitude and recognition that there will be negative with the positive.
It’s a process, this certainly isn’t the first type of crypto-segregation in sport
and while pioneers have some difficult times, like the pioneers of racial acceptance — the help move the process forward.
We love to talk about heroes in this country, but what is heroism? It’s doing right, doing for others, at a risk to yourself. So-called “sports heroes” don’t fit the bill. The risks they take are for their own glory. Gay athletes like Greg Louganis and John Amaeche took no risks. They came out after retirement to capitalize on it. If any athlete can be called a hero, it’s Michael Sam. He is coming out at the beginning of his career, taking a significant risk for the betterment of the lives of millions of gay people, particularly young gay athletes. As gay athletes go, he joins Orlando Cruz, the boxer, and Martina Navratilova in my short book of heroes.
the other Greg
@ppp111: Actually there’s an advantage in him coming out NOW because it makes it more likely he’ll be drafted by a team that really wants him.
If he had waited til after he was drafted, he might have been stuck with a team that was an uncomfortable fit. This way he’ll probably get a team that’s a good fit, where the players and the fans are ready for him.
If you look back in history at say, the Jackie Robinson situation in baseball: MLB could make all the nicey-nicey noises they wanted about wanting interracial play. But down at the team level, maybe only the Brooklyn Dodgers were seriously ready to go through with it right then.
It’s kind of a similar situation here, where the NFL really does seem to want this but isn’t sure how to get it going.
We need to, as a community, bombard the social media pages of the NFL, Missouri Tigers, FB, Twitter, CNN, MsNBC, FoxNews (Yes, FoxNews)…every page concerning this draft. There are MANY coaches and players speaking anonymously on this issue. This YOUNG man has the balls to do this at this stage in his life. It could possibly ruin his career. Yet he has the balls to speak out before the draft and they speak anonymously?!?!?!? At least least he had the guts! Bombard the social sites in support of this BRAVE young man!
@sportsguy1983: i agree. I really don’t see the point of taking a shot at Rodgers. Either he’s gay and not ready to come out, or, as Queerty obviously doesn’t believe, he’s actually not gay like he said. and either way, let him be. This should be about Michael Sam coming out, not trying to get another player to come out.
@the other Greg: I agree. Whatever team drafts him will really want him and the players will know. Plus, the media circus will likely die down before training camp and allow him and the team to focus on what’s important in the NFL, winning.
Harvey Milk would have wanted us to do something. NOT JUST POST ON THIS THREAD. POST ON THE MOST IMPT. social pages. NFL, HRC, your own personal pages, your favorite NFL, NCAA, MLB, NBA team. Do something. I did. Let them know this is important!
The dude is packing some serious “meat torpedo”…somebody will let him in….
Why can’t Queerty interview this guy, instead of that loser Chris Crocker? This is someone I’d want to read about.
So proud of you
Michael Sam is someone I’d like to read a three part,exclusive interview with–not fame whore Chris Crocker.
I hate to say this but I think this is going to a have a negative effect on his career. The NFL is an extreamly homophobic organization. It will be years id not decades for them to change.
@robho3: Although I’m happy for him,I don’t see him getting drafted (especially not in the 1-4 round).
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