Michael Sam Comes Out as Gay: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Michael Sam Interview: 'I'm Gay' | Mizzou Football Star Comes Out | The New York TimesMichael Sam, a defensive lineman from the University of Missouri (Mizzou Tigers), spoke publicly about his sexual orientation and could become the first openly gay player in the National Football League. [This is the shortened version of the interview with Michael Sam. Click here youtu.be/LFIjXBjsLHs to watch the extended clip.] Read the story here: nyti.ms/1efCVfX…2014-02-10T01:34:43.000Z

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, a top prospect in May’s NFL draft, announced he is gay, the New York times reported on Sunday.

Sam said he wanted to come out now to “own his truth” and get ahead of the rumors that might have been circulating about his sexual orientation. He also wanted to show that a team a can have success with an openly gay person on the team.

Sam was active on social media after the news broke, tweeting his appreciation to all those who are encouraging and supporting him through such a trying time.

Here’s what you need to know about Sam and why his announcement is important.

1. He’s On Path to Become NFL’s First Openly Gay Player

Michael Sam, Missouri, Defensive End, Gay, NFL draft, Sports


Currently, there are no openly gay players in the NFL. Sam, given he makes an NFL roster next fall, would be the first in the league.

Sam told the New York Times:

I may be the first [openly gay NFL player], but I won’t be the last. I think only good things are going to come from this.”

2. His Teammates Allegedly Knew Of His Sexual Orientation

Michael Sam, Missouri, Defensive End, Gay, NFL draft, Sports


According to the New York Times report, many teammates were privy to Sam’s homosexuality — some even knew he dated a man on the Missouri swim team.

He was nonetheless respected in the locker room and around campus.

Sam’s friend and teammate L’Damian Washington told the New York Times:

When I first met him, you could be downstairs and you could hear Mike all the way on the second floor of the dorms. He’s just a loud guy. Everybody knows when Michael Sam is in the building.”

Sam alleged that he first began to wonder if he was gay in his early teenage years, even though he had a girlfriend.

3. He Had an Outstanding 2013 Season at Missouri

Michael Sam, Missouri, Defensive End, Gay, NFL draft, Sports


Sam was one of the best players in country over the 2013 season. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end was a first team All-American in his senior season, registering 11.5 sacks and 48 tackles.

Missouri went 12-2 this season, including a trip to the SEC Championship and Cotton Bowl victory.

Watch Sam’s best highlights below.

Mizzou Football: Michael Sam HighlightsThis is a production of the Mizzou Network. For more videos follow us on Twitter @MizzouNetwork2013-11-20T20:51:44.000Z

After the news broke, Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel took to Twitter to voice his support for Sam.

4. Coming Out Could Affect His Draft Stock

Michael Sam, Missouri, Defensive End, Gay, NFL draft, Sports


Sam is projected to be a middle-round draft pick, according to NFL Draft Scout.

There’s a lot of speculation about how coming out could affect his draft stock. USA Today’s Jarrett Bell believes it shouldn’t be a factor, writing:

His bold move, less than two weeks before Sam will be timed, tested, examined and interviewed along with about 200 other prospects by teams at the NFL combine, may have raised his draft stock in some eyes because of his courage.”

On the other hand, Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel interviewed eight NFL executives on the subject and came up with underwhelming results. All of them believed his announcement will cause him to fall in the draft.

He quoted one of them as saying:

I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet. In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

Sam fell an eye-popping 70 spots on CBS Sports’ Draft Prospect Board overnight, dropping from the No. 9 defensive end and No. 90 overall prospect to No. 14 at his position and No. 160 overall.

While many people seem to peg being gay as a distraction in the locker room, it certainly didn’t throw off Missouri’s chemistry last season.

Guess Michael Sam coming out to his teammates before the season didn't hurt the locker room. #Mizzou went from 5-7 to 12-2.

— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) February 10, 2014

In an even bigger display of support for Sam, check out what Missouri students did to Faurot Field on Monday.

Michael Sam, Missouri, Defensive End, Gay, NFL Draft, Sports

Zach Paul. (Twitter)

According to NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk, two NFL teams, the Packers and Eagles, have already come out saying they have no problem with Michael Sam.

5. NFL Players Have Offered Mixed Opinions on the Subject

Chris Kluwe: Risk in being openly gay in NFLMinnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe talks to Anderson Cooper about same-sex marriage and openly gay players in the NFL. For more CNN videos, visit our site at cnn.com/video/2013-03-28T01:10:04.000Z

Some NFL players have been outspoken in support of gay athletes in the NFL. Most recently, punter Chris Kluwe made headlines for claiming the Vikings released him in retaliation for his recent activism for gay rights and same-sex marriage.

Kluwe discussed the risk of being openly gay in the NFL with CNN’s Anderson Cooper last year. You can watch that interview above.

Former Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has also been a long-standing activist for LGBT rights. Ayanbadejo told ESPN last year that up to four NFL players were considering coming out as gay.

Other players, like Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, publicly stated they would not want a gay teammate.

Among the reasons for Vilma’s reluctance is the fear of being looked at sexually in the shower.

According to the Huffington Post, Vilma told the NFL Network’s Andrea Kramer:

I think that he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted. I don’t want people to just naturally assume, like, ‘Oh, we’re all homophobic.’ That’s really not the case. Imagine if he’s the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me. How am I supposed to respond?”

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