University of Missouri lineman Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman and the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year, announced in an interview on Sunday that he is gay. Sam stated publicly for the first time something his teammates already knew, saying, “I am an openly, proud gay man.”
Speaking on ESPN’s Outside the Lines, Sam added, “I understand how big this is. 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 defensive player is eligible for the NFL draft in May. Should he be drafted, he will become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL.
Michael Sam added that his decision to come out now, rather than after the draft, came after his experience at the Senior Bowl two weeks ago where it appeared that many people were already aware of his sexual orientation. He added, “I didn’t realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something about me. I want to own my truth. … No one else should tell my story but me.”
The reaction on Twitter to Michael Sam’s announcement was mostly positive. Most users congratulated him for coming out, though a few criticized or simply didn’t care. Mizzou also voiced its support for its athlete.
We support Tigers of all stripes at Mizzou. Proud of you @MikeSamFootball! #OneMizzou https://t.co/ueLCOJ4RFF pic.twitter.com/DvJ2vTIbgU
— Mizzou (@Mizzou) February 10, 2014
I’ve gained a lot of respect for Michael Sam tonight, that takes a lot of courage! #ProudMizzouFan
— Samantha Lederle (@LederleSamantha) February 10, 2014
Reading up on Michael Sam from Missouri. Good for him. Would be amazing 2 see him in the NFL. #redskins could use a player like him
— Pippi Loansgotme (@mutual_feelings) February 10, 2014
Mad props to Michael Sam. Coming out in Missouri of all places can’t be easy.
— Steve Svehla (@CoatCzech) February 10, 2014
You know what will be the coolest? The day when it won’t matter if a Michael Sam is gay. Baby steps.
— Jeff Rosen (@jeff_rosen88) February 10, 2014
Michael Sam coming out is pretty cool 🙂 Shame to have to, it shouldn’t matter really but anyway, good luck for the draft 🙂
— Rowan Phelps (@RowanPhelps) February 10, 2014
Other users worried that Sam’s announcement would change his draft stock.
It’d be such a shame to see Michael Sam’s draft stock fall significantly because of his coming out. He’s a beast.
— Wally Ayala (@WalleTheAggie) February 10, 2014
I would not be shocked if Michael Sam went undrafted. Scouts will look for any reason not to take him.
— Johnny O (@locooito) February 10, 2014
Then there was this user, who didn’t seem at all thrilled with the media reports on Michael Sam.
Can’t wait to have the media shove Michael Sam’s courageous gay journey down my throat for the next few weeks………………………….
— Patrick Midla (@PatrickMidla) February 10, 2014
And. Well. There was Westboro Baptist Church’s response, and an announcement that the group will picket Mizzou in response to Michael Sam’s coming out.
God hates @MikeSamFootball! Westboro Baptist Church to picket @Mizzou on 2/13/14, 5:30-6PM. cc: @espn @nytimes @nfl pic.twitter.com/dnAld9cL9N
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSays) February 10, 2014
We’ll have to wait until May to know how Sam’s decision to reveal his sexuality will play into his placement in the NFL draft.
[Image: Marcus Qwertyus]