University of Missouri’s former star Michael Sam, one of the top defensive end prospects in this year’s NFL draft, told his advisers this Sunday that he’s gay.
Sam revealed his sexual orientation in multiple interviews published Sunday night. A USA TODAY All-America pick last season and potential mid-round draft pick in May, Sam finished his senior season as the SEC’s co-Defensive Player of the Year (10 ½ sacks and 18 tackles for loss).
Making a number of All-American teams, Sam figures to be drafted somewhere in the first three rounds in May, according to most league analysts. And if Sam does make an NFL roster, he’ll be solely responsible for breaking a barrier that many never thought would happen.
“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” Sam told The New York Times. “I just want to own my truth.” This was the first time he’d spoken to the media about his sexual orientation.
Sam’s plans were first reported by The New York Times; he then took to his new Twitter account to speak out.
“This is less of a coming out story than a welcoming people in story,” said Patrick Burke of the You Can Play! Project, which worked with Sam prior to Sunday’s news. “He’s been out on campus for a couple of years.” Sam told the Project he wanted to come out publicly now to give the NFL teams a chance to consider him completely.
“The most important thing about coming out before the draft is that will ensure that the teams that want him can get him,” Burke said. “We want him to go to a team that’s supportive of him. There won’t be a surprise, for lack of a better term. I would rather him go in the fifth round to a team that want him than a team in the second round that didn’t.”
At 6’2″ and 260 lbs., Sam projects as an outside linebacker in the NFL. On top of being Mizzou’s team captain last season, he was also voted team MVP.
Said the NFL in a statement: “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.”
Show your support for the courageous Sam and follow him on Twitter @MikeSamFootball.
And for all of my fellow Mizzou fans out there: “It’s a great day to be a Tiger!”