NFL Prospect Michael Sam Announces He’s Gay
With one sentence, the NFL was forever changed on February 9th, 2014.
“I am an openly, proud gay man.”
All-American defensive lineman Michael Sam is the first NFL prospect to announce he’s gay. Sam is eligible for the upcoming 2014 NFL draft, and if he’s selected he will become the first openly gay athlete in NFL history.
“I understand how big this is,” he said. “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.”
I must admit, I respect the hell out of Sam for making this announcement – and even moreso for doing it prior to the NFL draft. There is no precedent for an openly gay athlete in the NFL, and no one knows how NFL teams will react to this announcement.
Will NFL teams be mature enough to look past a player’s sexual orientation? You’d hope so, but we just don’t know. Sam’s announcement sends us into uncharted territory.
According to ESPN, Sam decided to speak up after his experience at the Senior Bowl two weeks ago. According to Sam, many players already seemed aware of the fact that he was gay.
“I didn’t realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me,” he said. “I want to own my truth. … No one else should tell my story but me.”
As it turns out, Sam had already confided to his Mizzou teammates prior to the start of their 2013 campaign.
“Coaches just wanted to know a little about ourselves, our majors, where we’re from, and something that no one knows about you,” Sam said. “And I used that opportunity just to tell them that I was gay. And their reaction was like, ‘Michael Sam finally told us.’ ”
Now that Sam has made the same proclamation to the world, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel released a statement saying he’s proud of his former lineman.
“We’re really happy for Michael that he’s made the decision to announce this, and we’re proud of him and how he represents Mizzou,” Pinkel said. “Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others, he’s taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn’t matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we’re all on the same team and we all support each other.”
You can expect a lot of hyperbole from media outlets in the coming days, but Sam did an unbelievable job of putting everything in perspective.
“I endured so much in my past: seeing my older brother killed from a gunshot wound, not knowing that my oldest sister died when she was a baby and I never got the chance to meet her. My second oldest brother went missing in 1998, and me and my little sister were the last ones to see him … my other two brothers have been in and out of jail since 8th grade, currently both in jail. Telling the world I’m gay is nothing compared to that.”
Even though we don’t know how individual teams will react to Sam’s announcement, the NFL released a statement supporting Sam…
“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage,” NFL senior vice president of communications Greg Aiello said in the statement. “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.”
Sam now joins Jason Collins and Robbie Rogers as the only active professional male athletes to announce they are gay.
Check out the announcement…
Here are some public reactions from Twitter…
Right now the producers at Fox News are looking for *just* the right way to be outraged about Michael Sam coming out as gay.
— Rex Huppke (@RexHuppke) February 10, 2014
Congrats to Michael Sam, it takes real courage to do what he did in a society that has become so judgmental. Stand for what you believe in.
— Dominique Hamilton (@Underrated_Dom) February 10, 2014
As a Mizzou grad, I am quite proud of Michael Sam.
— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) February 10, 2014
The coolest thing about Michael Sam? He's actually really friggin good at football.
— Andrei Berman (@AndyBremmen) February 10, 2014
I wish I could watch a sports channel without them bringing up Michael Sam's situation! He's gay, now get over it… not that big of a deal!
— Brandon Cobb⚾ (@Bcobb14) February 10, 2014
"Now, with the response to Michael Sam's declaration, live via satellite, Tim Tebow…"
— Michael Arria (@michaelarria) February 10, 2014
Michael sam Is a god damn rockstar for having the balls to admit his sexuality to the world. I admire your bravery, sir. ONE LOVE
— the MY GUY (@Roudy_Randyxo) February 10, 2014
— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) February 10, 2014
Standing strong with #Mizzou's Michael Sam. Onward to the NFL!
— Governor Jay Nixon (@GovJayNixon) February 10, 2014