ST. LOUIS — Michael Sam dismissed the thought that his sexuality has cost him a spot in the NFL.
“I don’t like to think that way,” Sam said in an Oprah Winfrey Network documentary that aired Saturday night. “But I do believe I’m a very talented football player and I’m going to continue working hard and try to get that opportunity to play in the league.”
The first openly gay player drafted in the NFL has no regrets.
“I did everything I was supposed to do. I did everything right,” Sam said. “I am proud of how I handled things.”
Sam said coming out was the right thing to do. He would have preferred the news come out after he informed the team that drafted him, but he feared it would be revealed and felt pressure to control the situation.
“It didn’t need to be public,” Sam said. “Why do gay people have to do it?”
The production was billed as the player’s first TV appearance since being cut by the Dallas Cowboys in mid-October and played like a personal “Hard Knocks.” The 90-minute program was followed by a one-on-one with Winfrey, who asked Sam whether he believed sexual orientation is hurting his chances, and how long he’d keep trying.
“As long as I can,” Sam replied.
The documentary details countless anxious hours during the NFL draft, which Sam called “the longest three days of my life.” The New York Jets telephoned his agents to say they weren’t interested, and the Cowboys texted to say they were out, too.
Sam, who rose to stardom after a difficult childhood in tiny Hitchcock, Texas, asked that the sound on the TV be turned down at one point before the St. Louis Rams took him late in the seventh round.
“Am I going undrafted?” a frustrated Sam asked agent Cameron Weiss. “This phone still has not beeped.”
Sam said the reassuring hand of his partner, Vito Cammisano, on his shoulder during the wait to get picked affirmed the decision last February to reveal his sexual orientation to the nation. He informed Missouri coaches and players before his senior season and was the team MVP and SEC co-defensive player of the year.
“In that moment, I was like ‘I don’t care what happens. I made the right choice to come out,'” Sam said.
Watch a clip:
Sam broke down in sobs when Rams coach Jeff Fisher telephoned…