Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman for the University of Missouri Tigers, has come out as gay in interviews with ESPN and The New York Times. According to statements made to both outlets, Sam came out to his team mates and coaches last August:
“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.’ ”
Asked what that moment felt like, Sam said, “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 was named the Southeastern Conference’s Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, and he was unanimously selected to the first-team All-American. He is already the first Division I college football player in history to come put as gay. If he is picked up on the NFL draft in May, then Sam could become the first openly gay player in NFL history.