In a celebration worthy announcement, Missouri Defensive End, and SEC defensive player of the year Michael Sam has announced that he is gay. According to Adam Schefter, Sam is projected as a mid round draft pick, and barring an unexpected announcement prior to May’s draft, will make history as the first gay player in the history of the National Football League.
Sam came out to teammates and coaches during camp in August of 2013 during a session of telling the team something about himself. While all members associated with the Missouri Tigers squad protecting his status from the public eye, despite Sam never asking this protection of anyone he chose to confide in. On Sunday, Sam conducted interview with the New York Times, and ESPN’s Outside the Lines to acknowledge that he is gay, telling both sources, “I am an openly, proud gay man.”
While there is an air of tolerance and almost excitement at the announcement, the obvious subsequent question to this news is of course, “Who is Michael Sam’s boyfriend?” In an era where public outing is considered taboo and incomprehensible, Sam isn’t about to say. He did acknowledge in his interviews that he dated a fellow Mizzou athlete, but noted that the person was not a football player.
Sam’s upbringing was filled with personal tragedy and obstacles along his way to 11.5 sacks and 19 TFL in his senior season, explaining to Outside the Lines how this was an easy decision for him:
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.
Michael Sam discussed how well received he was by the Tigers locker room, and hopes that translates into the NFL for the new path he blazes. He just came out to his parents within the last week knowing that these stories were on the verge of being released. He joined Twitter immediately following the ESPN piece, and launched his Twitter career by saying, 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!
The NFL has already commented on this news, in an official statement saying:
We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL.
In the signature quote to end his interview with OTL, Sam states:
I’m not afraid to tell the world who I am. I’m Michael Sam: I’m a college graduate. I’m African American, and I’m gay. I’m comfortable in my skin.