Former Missouri Tigers defensive lineman and mid-round NFL Draft prospect Michael Sam is set to become the first openly gay player in the NFL. On Sunday, it became public knowledge that Sam was an openly homosexual male who had already come out to his teammates.
Sam announced the news to his teammates during a team-building exercise before last season and now he is sharing his story with the world. Sam had said that he didn’t want the news to leak before the NFL Draft, so he was ready to let everyone know.
“I’m gay,” he said, via the New York Times. “I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out.”
Sam added to ESPN, “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.”
Sam thanked everyone for their support via social media:
— Michael Sam (@MikeSamFootball) February 10, 2014
Sam made a brave decision to make the announcement with the NFL Scouting Combine just around the corner, and he should be applauded for the announcement.
People have been waiting for years for an athlete in the NFL to come out as openly gay, and Sam is breaking down those barriers.
It is a great moment for Sam and one that certainly deserves praise. With his courage to be who he is and announce it to the world, let’s hope that he can inspire others to not be afraid who they are.