Former Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam made headlines Sunday night when he revealed he was gay and the reigning co-SEC defensive player of the year is months away from being the first openly gay NFL player, but his focus is on football and not being a gay rights activist, according to his publicist.
“Michael is a football player, not an activist,” said his publicist, Howard Bragman. “If you start showing up at too many dinners and too many parades, you start to send the message to a potential team about his priorities. The community wins when he steps onto an NFL field and plays in a game, not as the grand marshal of a pride parade. He may do that eventually, but the first year needs to be all about football.”
Sam has been referred to as the gay Jackie Robinson in the hours after his announcement became public, but the former Missouri defender is trying to establish himself in the NFL first where his position and draft position are in a state of flux.
“Trying to get drafted, make a roster and step foot on an NFL field in September is a big task,” writes Cyd Zeigler. “His role in the movement toward LGBT equality in sports will be simply playing the sport as an out gay man — a role many have been waiting years for someone to step into. Bragman reached out to various organizations to make that message clear. They all agreed.”