HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – Michael Sam decided that it was going to be him who would write his story, a story that has yet to be written. But Sam, a graduate of the University of Missouri in December, wants to play in the NFL, and doesn’t think his sexual orientation should have anything to do with it.
The Missouri defensive standout spoke publicly for the first time, Sunday, about his orientation and why he decided to come out now, after the Tigers went 12-2 and he secured a solid draft stock, when he’s been out to many for more than six months.
Sam came out to his Missouri teammates in a team building exercise derived by his coaches to bond the players of the Tigers together. Players were supposed to talk about themselves in small groups to their teammates. The Hitchcock, Texas native told his group he was gay.
“I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out,” Sam said Sunday in an interview with The New York Times. The interview was the first time the South Texan spoke publicly about his sexuality.
Sam has been projected be drafted in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft in May. If he is, he would be the first openly gay player to play in the NFL.
“I understand how big this is,” Sam told ESPN Sunday. “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.”
Sam says his teammates at Missouri are a big reason he feels comfortable doing something that could have such a big impact on the a sport that has had it’s troubles in the past year with the subject of homosexuality in the locker room.
“They supported me from Day one. I couldn’t have better teammates,” Sam told ESPN. “I wouldn’t have the strength to do this today if I didn’t know how much support they’d given me this past semester.”
Sam very well could enter a hostile environment when he gets drafted. Ten year NFL Veteran, Jonathan Vilma, told the NFL Network that he doesn’t think an openly gay might not be welcome.
“I think he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted,” said Saints linebacker Vilma.
Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe says he isn’t playing right now in the NFL because he was an open supporter of same sex marriage being legalized.
With so many doubts of the reactions of current NFL players why would Sam decide to come out before his career even begins?
“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” Sam said. “I just want to own my truth.”
The 6’3 260 pound defensive end might get moved to outside linebacker after being drafted, but Sam will most likely take the field and make history come September.
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