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Missouri Football Star Michael Sam Says He's Gay, May Be First Out NFL Player: VIDEO


University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam has come out of the closet in an interview with the NYT:

Michael_samCoaches at the University of Missouri divided players into small groups at a preseason football practice last year for a team-building exercise. One by one, players were asked to talk about themselves — where they grew up, why they chose Missouri and what others might not know about them.

As Michael Sam, a defensive lineman, began to speak, he balled up a piece of paper in his hands. “I’m gay,” he said. With that, Mr. Sam set himself on a path to become the first publicly gay player in the National Football League.

“I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out,” Mr. Sam said Sunday in an interview with The New York Times, the first time he spoke publicly about his sexual orientation.

Watch his (updated: extended) interview with the NYT, AFTER THE JUMP...

Sam, who was named a first-team all-American and the defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, as well as Missouri's MVP (as voted by the players) will likely become the first openly gay player in the NFL. He is eligible for the draft in May.

Sam also gave an interview to ESPN.

Espn_samSaid Sam to ESPN:

"I knew from a young age that I was attracted to guys. I didn't know if it was a phase ... I didn't want to say, 'Hey, I might be gay. I might be bi.' I just didn't know ... I wanted to find who I was and make sure I knew what was comfortable. So I didn't tell anyone growing up. I endured so much in my past: seeing my older brother killed from a gunshot wound, not knowing that my oldest sister died when she was a baby and I never got the chance to meet her. My second oldest brother went missing in 1998, and me and my little sister were the last ones to see him ... my other two brothers have been in and out of jail since 8th grade, currently both in jail...Telling the world I'm gay is nothing compared to that."

"I just want to go to the team who drafts me," he said, "because that team knows about me, knows that I'm gay, and also knows that I work hard. That's the team I want to go to."

He added:

"I told my mom and dad last week, and they just pretty much said, 'We knew and we love you and support you.' I'm their baby boy. I'm the first to go to college. I'm the first to graduate college. Something like this is just another milestone...And I love my hometown. I think when this story breaks, I think they're just going to love me even more for who I am."

Watch his interviews with NYT and ESPN, AFTER THE JUMP...

The NFL released a statement:

"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 towelcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."

Outsports has a behind-the-scenes story on how Sam came out:

Saturday afternoon, I sat with Sam and grilled him in a practice interview at Bragman's house. The next day he would be sitting down with ESPN and The New York Times. Bragman, Weiss and Barkett were the audience, critiquing Sam on his answers. When the topic was football he knew what to say, sharing playing experiences and his love of defense (he'd rather be the one hitting than being hit). When asked about his childhood, he opened up sharing intimate details about enduring abuse from his brothers, experiencing the pain of losing three siblings, and finding solace in football. He is the first person in his family to graduate from college. When questions turned to gay issues in that mock interview, Sam worked through the answers.

Saturday night, Bragman held a coming out party for Sam at his home in Los Angeles. It was a powerful collection of guests. Dave Kopay, the gay former NFL running back who blazed a trail when he came out publicly in 1975, was in high spirits. Former NFL players Chris Kluwe, Brendon Ayanbedajo and Wade Davis, plus former Major Leaguer Billy Bean — the former San Diego Padre who came out over a decade ago — had come to lend their support. Outsports' Jim Buzinski and I were also in attendance.

ESPN interview:

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  1. M-I-Z....

    Posted by: Rocco | Feb 9, 2014 8:26:55 PM

  2. Amazing! Kudos to this brave young man!

    Posted by: topher | Feb 9, 2014 8:27:46 PM

  3. Apparently that 15 year old Russian skater - Yulia Lipnitskaya - is a teenaged boy.

    Posted by: snork | Feb 9, 2014 8:28:17 PM

  4. Excellent news! What an admirable, classy guy. We're lucky to have him on our team.

    Posted by: E. | Feb 9, 2014 8:30:06 PM

  5. Amazing. Not to stereotype, but Mississippi?? Unless things are different than I imagine, this guy has a lot of courage. I hope he has a long and productive career ahead of him.

    Posted by: mike128 | Feb 9, 2014 8:30:42 PM

  6. Mr. Michael Sam you are speaking truth and using its power, I wish all the good, life fulfilling and nurturing aspects that self revelation always always gives, a true man and an awesome inspiration. Thank you.

    Posted by: Troy | Feb 9, 2014 8:33:34 PM

  7. Guys---the SEC defensive player of the year just came out. The defensive player of the year of the top NCAA division. This is huge news. Extremely huge news. Like, huger than Jason Collins. OMG.

    It finally happened. Extremely happy. WOW. Congratulations Michael. Congratulations to all gay athletes. This changes everything.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 9, 2014 8:37:27 PM

  8. Mike128, it's Mizzou, not Ole Miss.

    What a horrific family life. I am so impressed at his resilience. Bravo, Michael Sam.

    Posted by: bravo | Feb 9, 2014 8:38:33 PM

  9. Missouri, not Mississippi. Mizzou, not Ole Miss. Huge day. Huge.

    Posted by: Rocco | Feb 9, 2014 8:39:52 PM

  10. All the best to you Michael Sam. What a Guy!!!

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 9, 2014 8:44:27 PM

  11. Wow, this is huge! This is going to inspire so many people! Congrats to Mr. Sam on a bright future ahead of him.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Feb 9, 2014 8:51:56 PM

  12. I am so impressed. This guy rolled the dice on telling his truth before the draft. Amazing brass balls! I wish nothing but success.

    Posted by: MikeBoston | Feb 9, 2014 8:56:47 PM

  13. Wonderful news! All the Republicans and other haters can't stop the forward match of progress.

    Posted by: Sergio | Feb 9, 2014 8:58:21 PM

  14. Awesome f@c&ing news!!! Awesome!!!

    Posted by: Mel Smith | Feb 9, 2014 9:00:13 PM

  15. I'm in tears.

    Nike. Here's your guy. You promised to do right by the first openly gay player. Michael Sam is a star. And a survivor. In so very many ways. He's capable of doing great things in the NFL and in life.

    Help him help every gay kid in America have a role model in sports.

    Michael. If you should happen to read this just know that we send you so much love and will always have your back. Give hugs to every one of your Missouri teammates that stood with you too.

    Posted by: SERIOUSLY | Feb 9, 2014 9:02:20 PM

  16. I barely know what this "football" thing is but I do know this guy is awesome. Thank you and congratulations to Michael Sam!

    Posted by: bicuriousus | Feb 9, 2014 9:02:32 PM

  17. Just watched the video. He's going to break down so many stereotypes about what gay men are supposed to look and act like. I mean gays already know, but many others are just ignorant. Now an out gay man is playing in the "most masculine" of American sports. The fact that he's also a gay man of color has added significance. Being gay is not just a white thing.

    It doesn't hurt that he's quite handsome too!

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Feb 9, 2014 9:06:15 PM

  18. YAAAAAY!!!

    Posted by: ACe | Feb 9, 2014 9:09:19 PM

  19. He just destroyed stereotypes. This news is so awesome. Sam is a role model for people of all walks of life.

    Posted by: Mel Smith | Feb 9, 2014 9:10:36 PM

  20. Very cool! This will make a huge, positive impact.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Feb 9, 2014 9:13:33 PM

  21. He is remarkable. I'm not a religious person by any stretch but I will be praying for him and hoping all his dreams and aspirations come true!

    Posted by: NY2.0 | Feb 9, 2014 9:24:25 PM

  22. Sports Illustrated asked executives and coaches around the league and they pretty much all said Michael Sam's draft stock is likely to take a hit, with several saying a significant hit. He's not a lock to get drafted. He was already a mid/late draft pick to begin with.

    I don't think it matters if he gets drafted, though. Michael Sam is a trailblazer. Crushed stereotypes, as did his teammates for accepting him. Everything has changed from here.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 9, 2014 9:39:57 PM

  23. MIchael! You freakin' rock! Steal yourself for a long, bumpy road. There will be a glorious payoff. You are my hero!

    Posted by: dattexas | Feb 9, 2014 9:41:13 PM

  24. Wish him all the best. Hopefully others will soon be brave enough to follow this leader.

    Posted by: Fox | Feb 9, 2014 9:53:47 PM

  25. Hey everyone, "like" and make positive comments on the video over on YouTube. The ignorant "Christians" and homophobes are already out in force with lame jokes and opinions that Mr. Sam should seek help and be required to shower separately from other men.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Feb 9, 2014 9:54:24 PM

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