Michael Sam, a 2013 AP all-american and SEC Defensive Player of the Year with the Missouri Tigers football team, has come out as gay.
“I am an openly, proud gay man. 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.”
The National Football League released a statement saying, “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty & courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in NFL.”
Finally. Be great, Michael Sam.
— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) February 10, 2014
Yes Michael Sam does need to tell us this. Progress works that way. Landmark moments usually begin with individual courage.
— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) February 10, 2014
Sam, 24, is eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft and projections rate Sam as a mid-round selection.
Last season with Missouri, Sam led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.
The only current openly gay athlete in professional sports is Los Angeles Galaxy mid-fielder Robbie Rogers. Jason Collins came out as gay last year, but has yet to sign with an NBA team following his announcement.
The complexion for gay athletes has just changed forever, and how many players follow in Sam’s footsteps will be something to watch for.