Missouri DE Michael Sam Will Be First Openly Gay NFL Prospect

Rucuss staffFebruary 10, 2014

University of Missouri all America defensive lineman Michael Sam came out as gay on Sunday.

Sam revealed the news in an interview with ESPN’s Outside the Lines. He will be the first openly gay player in the NFL if he’s drafted to a team in May.

“I came to tell the world that I’m an openly, proud gay man,” Sam said today in interviews with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and the New York Times.

Though he said he had previously told his teammates on the Tigers, he wanted to control the way the story was spread.

“I want to own my truth,” Sam told Connelly. “Two weeks ago at The Senior Bowl I didn’t realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me or tell a story. I just wanted to control the situation and tell my story.”

His revelation came less than two weeks after a Division-III kicker became the first openly gay player in college football.

“I understand how big this is,” Sam 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.”

During preseason training camp, Sam came out to his Missouri coaches and teammates. He said the reaction was basically, “Michael Sam finally told us.”

While his teammates and coaches seemed to know, Sam said he was confused about his sexual orientation growing up in Texas.

“I knew from a young age that I was attracted to guys,” he said, “I didn’t know if it was a phase … I didn’t want to say, ‘Hey, I might be gay. I might be bi.’ I just didn’t know … I wanted to find who I was and make sure I knew what was comfortable. So I didn’t tell anyone growing up.”

Sam led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season. ESPN Scouts Inc. rates him the 12th-best outside pass rusher and many expert project that he will be selected somewhere in the middle rounds.

“I’m not afraid to tell the world who I am. I’m Michael Sam: I’m a college graduate,” Sam said. “I’m African American, and I’m gay. I’m comfortable in my skin.”

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