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Mizzou Star Michael Sam Opens Up About Being Gay

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Missouri football player Michael Sam spoke spoken publicly for the first time about his sexual orientation. In an article in the New York Times on Sunday, Sam announced that he was gay.
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Missouri football player Michael Sam spoke spoken publicly for the first time about his sexual orientation.  In an article in the New York Times on Sunday, Sam announced that he was gay.

While there have been other athletes who have come out about their sexuality, Sam is the first player to open up as he begins his quest to start a professional career.  The 6’2, 260 pound, defensive end, was voted most valuable defensive player by his teammates.  His current draft stock has him potentially being picked in the third round.

The NFL is the largest professional sports organization in the U.S.  Rarely is a player who is projected that high for the NFL draft cut.  So, if Sam were to make an NFL roster, he would become the first player to publicly announce that he is gay.

“I’m not naïve,” Sam told the Times. “I know this is a huge deal and I know how important this is. But my role as of right now is to train for the combine and play in the NFL.”

Sam talks about opening up. Video courtesy New York Times.

The NFL released a statement late Sunday night, “We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the N.F.L. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”

While the league is supportive, there is still an uncertainty amongst it’s players of how Sam will be received by potential teammates. In fact, last offseason, there was an NFL scout who asked a potential draftee if he had a girlfriend.

Yet after Sam’s experience at Missouri, when he told his teammates during a team building exercise in August, he is comfortable that things will work out in the NFL. Sam also appeared on ESPN Sunday night.

“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” said Mr. Sam, who also spoke with ESPN on Sunday. “I just want to own my truth.”

Pinkel and Alden react to Sam’s announcement

As former Missouri Tiger defensive end Michael Sam made his announcement on national media on his sexuality on Sunday, head football coach Gary Pinkel and Director of Athletics, Mike Alden released statements, supporting Sam in his decsion.


On Michael Sam’s announcement

“We’re really happy for Michael that he’s made the decision to announce this, and we’re proud of him and how he represents Mizzou. Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others, he’s taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn’t matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we’re all on the same team and we all support each other. If Michael doesn’t have the support of his teammates like he did this past year, I don’t think there’s any way he has the type of season he put together.

We talk all the time here in our program about how one of our core values is to respect the cultural differences of others, and this certainly applies. We view ourselves as one big family that has a very diverse collection of people from all walks of life, and if you’re part of our family, we support you.

Looking back, I take great pride in how Michael and everyone in our program handled his situation. This past August, Michael was very direct with the team when he decided to let everyone know that he is gay. We discussed how to deal with that from a public standpoint, and ultimately Michael decided that he didn’t want that to be the focal point of the season. He wanted to focus on football and not do anything to add pressure for him or for his teammates, and I think that’s a great example of the kind of person he is. We left it that whenever he felt the time was right, however he wanted to make the announcement, that we had his back and we’d be right there with him.

We’re very proud of Michael and the courage he has displayed for coming out. We look forward to following his career, and the success he’s going to have.”


On Michael Sam’s announcement

“We are so proud of Michael for what he has accomplished at Mizzou academically, socially and competitively. This is a young man who earned his degree from MU, was a unanimous All-American on the football field and now he’s being a leader in his personal life. He continues to display great character, courage and compassion. We are proud of him on every level.

We work very hard at the University of Missouri to provide an environment that is respectful and inclusive of all people. We’re pleased with the strides we’ve made over the years with our student-athletes, coaches and staff about respecting and celebrating our differences. We continue to grow every day. We talk all the time about our core value of respect, and we emphasize that in a number of ways, whether it’s through individual actions, team settings, public efforts such as our ‘If You Can Play, You Can Play’ video, and even our Men-for-Men and Women-for-Women programs.

The University’s theme is called ‘One Mizzou.’ What that theme represents is that we are all family, we are all Tigers, and we should all respect and appreciate each other.

We wish Michael all the best in all that he does.”

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