On Sunday, Missouri All-American defensive lineman Michael Sam announced that he is gay, and the Associated Press’ SEC Defensive Player of the Year could now become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL.
Sam said in interviews with several media outlets that he came out to his teammates and coaches at Missouri in August.
Sam says: “I am an openly, proud gay man.”
Sam, who recorded 11.5 sacks in 2013 to go along with 19 total tackles for loss and 48 total tackles, participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last month and is projected to be a mid-round draft pick this coming May.
At the annual All-Star game, Sam measured in at 6015 and weighed 260 pounds. Because of that and his 80 1/4 wing-span, several teams that run a 3-4 defense figure to be interested in him as an outside linebacker prospect and that includes the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Following the news breaking about Sam coming out, the NFL released a short statement supporting his decision.
“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. 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.”
During a Sunday night interview on ESPN, former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis said that he believes 90 to 95 percent of NFL players will be accepting of Sam, according to Scott Brown of ESPN.com on Twitter.
“I think this is the perfect opportunity for the NFL to now make this a point to communicate to every NFL team that now you have to understand, you have to bring these players to this moment” said Bettis.
Sam has been invited to take part in the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis later on this month.