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Coming Out

All-American defensive lineman, NFL prospect Michael Sam comes out as gay

Sunday, February 9, 2014
APMichael Sam

Brandon Wade, AP
Michael Sam

Missouri All-American Michael Sam says he is gay, and the defensive end could become the first openly gay player in the NFL.

In interviews Sunday with ESPN and The New York Times, Sam said his teammates and coaches at Missouri have known since August.

“I am an openly, proud gay man,” he said.

Sam, a 6-foot-2, 260-pound senior, completed a stellar season for Missouri, which finished 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl. He was named a first-team all-American. He was the defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, widely considered the top league in college football. Teammates voted him Missouri’s most valuable player.

His decision to go public about his sexual orientation comes less than two weeks before the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis, an event where draft prospects show off their skills and are tested by the 32 NFL teams.

Sam, the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year, is projected to be chosen in the early rounds of the draft in May, and could become the first openly NFL player. He said he decided to come out publicly now because he sensed that rumors were circulating.

“It’s a big deal. No one has done this before,” he said. “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.”

Watch an excerpt from The New York Times interview here:

Sam, originally from Hitchcock, Texas, said he understands that his life is about to change forever, but that he is happy and proud to be speaking out at last.

He said he told his mother and father last week, “and they just pretty much said, ‘We knew and we love you and support you,’”

“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,” he said. “I’m comfortable in my skin.”

“Michael has shown great courage in taking this step and not only do we support him, we are incredibly grateful,” said Super Bowl champion and human rights activist Brendon Ayanbadejo, a member of the Athlete Ally Board of Directors, in a statement.

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“His decision to welcome us all into his world as he embarks upon a professional NFL career is an honorable one. This moment will resonate in a unique and important way for countless people, particularly LGBT youth,” said Ayanbadejo.

“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage,” the NFL said in statement. “Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”

Sam joins a growing list of notable athletes who have come out recently, including Jason Collins, Robbie Rogers, Brittney Griner, Orlando Cruz, Megan Rapinoe, Lori Lindsey, and Tom Daley.

Outsports.com has a behind-the-scenes look at Sam’s coming out.

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125 more reader comments:

  1. And then, just like that—he lost all of his mad skillz.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:23am
  2. j/k

    Replied on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:23am
  3. and HOT!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:23am
  4. What makes him more attractive is his integrity so early in his career. GOOD FOR HIM!! <3

    Replied on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 8:54am
  5. Rad.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:24am
  6. And?

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:24am
  7. Good for him don’t hide it… be you

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:24am
  8. Right on!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:24am
  9. and cute

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:25am
  10. That’s awesome! Good for him!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:25am
  11. Like. Support!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:25am
  12. goes on 2014 bucket wish list for a date

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:25am
  13. Thank you Michael

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:27am
  14. sexy football paper. gay or not, doesn’t change who he is and what skills he can bring to football.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:27am
  15. I hope this doesn’t hurt his chances, good for him.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:28am
  16. Good for him!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:29am
  17. What does All-American even mean? Can you be partially American?

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:29am
  18. This is huge Xoxo Big Gay Love

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:31am
  19. Good for you… Very admirable…

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:31am
  20. I think it’s very brave of him. What courage!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:31am
  21. All american just means all first team… or just a fancy way of saying he’s good.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:32am
  22. Handsome man with a great heart!!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:32am
  23. I don’t watch football, but good for him. Now he can be himself :D

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:33am
  24. Courage pure

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:33am
  25. Simply awesome!! I wish him truly the best for an amazing career in the NFL!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:33am
  26. Support

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:34am
  27. Way to go!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:35am
  28. could be my next hubby

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:37am
  29. mmmmm

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:38am
  30. #GayPride Do your thing!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:38am
  31. Good for him! And he’s a really good athlete. Hopefully this will help break down more barriers with the NFL.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:40am
  32. Thanks from my Partner and I. Our 5 kids appreciate your support !

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:40am
  33. Thats gay.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:41am
  34. are you?

    Replied on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:40pm
  35. wow. he is brave. <3

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:43am
  36. That’s what I’m talkin bout

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:44am
  37. Well, I’ll say this. We’ll know after the Combines and Draft how accepting the powers that be will be about this. He is touted as a high prospect and as long as he performs to expectations at the combines he should remain a high prospect. If he drops to the late rounds we’ll know it isn’t because of his abilities that he isn’t touted so high anymore.

    I hope for the sake of society that it doesn’t effect his draft position because it would be an awesome thing to let others know it’s ok to be openly gay in such a macho environment. At least I hope it would have that effect. If his position in the draft drops significantly due to this, all it will do is cause those who were thinking of coming out as shutting up and staying silent which does no one ANY good at all.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:46am
  38. Go in there and kick some NFL ass Mikey!!! Woot! !

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:47am
  39. Best of luck in his career.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:47am
  40. If he’s really good. ..and he is, the NFL will figure out how to reach new markets because he’s gay

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:48am
  41. Good for you welcome to the Family

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:49am
  42. Good for you. Congrats………..(now tell that ass, that other football player, he’s probablyed showered with a gay person & already saw his junk, & to get over his-self——moron). Chicago.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:51am
  43. #Mizzou

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:52am
  44. Style, honesty and class, on and off the field. All the best!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:57am
  45. Very brave.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:57am
  46. Im proud of him…

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:00am
  47. handsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:01am
  48. good for him :)

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:02am
  49. My question is… why does it need to be known? Does anyone shout “I’m straight!” Or “I’m bisexual”? It only seems to matter if someone is gay because people MAKE it matter.. honestly, a lot of people don’t care, one way or the other. They care about what team he plays for on the field, not what team he plays for in bed…

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:02am
  50. When you are persecuted for being gay, it makes it harder for people to come out openly because of stupid society. These people are trying to make the lgbt community more comfortable and welcome so they dont need to live in fear anymore.

    Replied on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:08am
  51. It may be a matter of the individual feeling as if they're living a double life. It could be a matter of seeing it as time to help out the LGBT cause. Whatever the case, what's done is done and the news is out. I hope this young man can sleep tonight with a few sighs of relief on his pillow knowing that he could possibly be a role model and also knowing that he doesn't have to hide from the masses.

    Replied on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:20am
  52. @joshua it only matters in awareness. It needs to be said until it doesn't matter. It won't matter when every human has equal rights and can live his/her life without fear of some sort of discrimination or attack.

    Replied on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:03am
  53. I have lived here in Columbia Missouri for 9 years.. It is not a place where you can be out and proud. So many people has lost jobs and family over being gay. We live in the bible belt. We are the minority here. It was very brave for this young guy to come out. I feel like he did it for me and all of the people here who feel like they have to be in the closet.

    Replied on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:23am
  54. WTG Good luck!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:05am
  55. I agree Joshua. Problem is the people who DO think it matters. They are the ones that will try to portray him as lesser than others etc. It’s time more athletes came out and showed the world LOOK WE ARE NO DIFFERENT but the stigma of machoness stops soooo many it truly is sad.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:05am
  56. Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:05am
  57. Because Joshua , some straight people will not let gay people have the same rights as them! We are ALL people , and should be treated as the same! I hope you can understand that?

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:06am
  58. My point is Jaymz that ok, some people will react negatively, some people cheer his “courage” for coming out… but why the need to come out? Why the need to announce your sexual orientation to the world?

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:07am
  59. Maybe he wants to be recognized as what he can do not what he is so to speak. Also the story indicates rumours were starting to circulate so he is also getting ahead of it as well.

    It SHOULDN’T matter. The fact that it does is the problem here.

    I just know if his combines are up to par and he still drops in draft ranking THIS will get pointed too and the NFL will look like a prejudiced bigoted sport league.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:09am
  60. There was a place kicked not too long ago basically lost his NFL career for standing up for gay marriage rights. NONE of it should matter but low and behold, it does as shitty as that is.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:10am
  61. Cool!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:10am
  62. To own it and not have to deal with rumors. Society makes it an issue. To us, its our norm. To everyone else, its the hot topic. When society stops worrying about whos gay or not we will stop having to publicly announce it to shut everyone up.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:12am
  63. Sorry 4 u.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:12am
  64. sorry for you

    Replied on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:39pm
  65. Here we go, I think the NFL and the mainstream is well prepared, but it may unearth some hater drama. Kluwe’s lawsuit tipped the iceberg, reform is going down.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:15am
  66. Who cares. Be your best!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:15am
  67. Kisses Mickey.. u are such a cutie too.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:15am
  68. Congratulations!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:17am
  69. Hoping that more & more college/professional athletes come out of the closet. They have nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of! It’s a small part of who they are!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:18am
  70. very proud of him :-)

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:18am
  71. So happy that you are “now” happier that you can live, love and be happy like everyone else! ONE LOVE!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:19am
  72. Good for you

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:19am
  73. You are a very brave young man, Congratulations and YOU ROCK!!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:24am
  74. HOTTY

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:27am
  75. Good for him.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:30am
  76. Yes it is brave. Everyone who
    comes out is brave. It’s not
    easy.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:30am
  77. God bless him!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:32am
  78. So Proud to be A Tiger !!!
    M I Z !!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:51am
  79. Wow he’s soooo hot!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:52am
  80. This is a huge deal – this young man is a very good player with the talent to be a great player in the NFL – I hope he gets drafted by the Eagles – they need good defensive ends

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:52am
  81. Now that takes courage; especially in the NFL-

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:54am
  82. Thank you very much

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:06am
  83. Good for him. That’s awesome.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:13am
  84. This will break down barriers.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:14am
  85. Welcome!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:15am
  86. A very brave young man. Some day, long after I have departed Mother Earth, this no longer will be a concern to anyone. Praise God!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:27am
  87. Good for you men.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:36am
  88. Michael, well done, congratulations, it takes a real man to come out, I wish you all the happiness, with your freedom now.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:47am
  89. I hope he gets drafted

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:08am
  90. We’ll see what NFL owner is a real man, and drafts him.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:10am
  91. I am so proud of this guy. I have lived in Columbia Mo. for the past 9 years. It is not the easiest place to be out and proud.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:12am
  92. Love this! Let’s lift the veil of shame and raise up generations of authentic truth tellers!!! Go M Sam.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:19am
  93. @ Brent Coy Ass!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:30am
  94. Coming out lessens hate. Good for him

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 5:02am
  95. I wish him the best and I hope this doesn’t affect his draft selection…hopefully he still goes as predicted (late 1st round…early 2nd round)

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 5:12am
  96. WOW! i hate the missouri tigers (huge jayhawk fan) but will have to set aside our differences. i’d be proud to welcome him to the kansas city chiefs!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 5:28am
  97. I am a big fan of Michael Sam

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 5:46am
  98. Good for you son. It may be a bit difficult for you at first, but you seem like a very strong young man. It’s funny how straight men think that all gay men are after them! Not true! Good luck to you, stay true to yourself!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 6:18am
  99. I’m getting tired of everyone coming out – should everyone tell whether they are straight?

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 6:31am
  100. If you want to! It's your choice!

    Replied on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 11:27am
  101. Two things: First, so proud of you! Second, could we have dinner? LOL

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 6:43am
  102. whatever. everyones gay

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 7:10am
  103. BFD!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 7:18am
  104. Good luck to him. Hopefully he will be judged for his football skills and nothing else!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 7:59am
  105. So proud of you!!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 8:29am
  106. OMG! Not another homosexional in sports!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 8:32am
  107. Dear friends! I am an activist in Russia. Help me find a resident of St. Louis! In order to convey greetings twin town in Russia! thank you in advance!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 9:31am
  108. Congrats.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 10:55am
  109. Congratulations Michael!! Aside from showing tremendous character you are a wonderful man! God bless you!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 11:00am
  110. Wouldn’t it be nice if people could just be who they are without having to explain things? I applaud this man and hope to see him play in The Super Bowl someday! Good luck Michael!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 11:23am
  111. awesome news

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 11:55am
  112. CONGRATS WE HAVE ANOTHER ONE AND SOMEONE ELSE OUR LGBT YOUTH CSAN LOOK UP TO AND KNOW ITS GOING TO BE OK TO BE WHO YOU ARE !!!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 12:16pm
  113. whats the difference…as long as he can play well

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 12:36pm
  114. As wonderful as this is, I hope that someday we actually live in a world where this isn’t news, where it’s as accepted and “normal” as being heterosexual…

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:02pm
  115. SO!! If he is gay why shouldn’t he come out as gay?? DAAA. Also if he would make the Cleveland Cavaliers a great team WITHOUT letting Lebron James come back ALL THE BETTER!!!!!
    Get over it PEOPLE, it is none of your business who he sleeps with!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:39pm
  116. !

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:05pm
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    https://www.facebook.com/gayhuman?ref=settings#

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:10pm
  118. I give him credit, but football is football. Jerry Smith, one of the best tight ends the Redskins ever fielded, was gay, but never came ‘out’ until well after he had retired from the game. His football did his talking….which is how it should be.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 2:36pm
  119. Very proud of him!

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:01pm
  120. Much love & respect can be a tough thing to do .

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:08pm
  121. and he is so hot..

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:12pm
  122. Good for him, that would be very hard in the profession he’s in.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 3:58pm
  123. And I should care why?

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:08pm
  124. I am very proud of you as everyone should be for truthfulness. I wish you all the best that you can have.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 4:31pm
  125. The first one out always pays the price for those who come after. This is what courage looks like.

    Posted on Monday, February 10, 2014 at 5:15pm