It’s been almost one year since Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted by the NFL. The historic moment, punctuated by a televised celebratory smooch with Sam’s now-fiancé Vito Cammisano, established Sam not only as an athlete on the rise, but an icon in the making.
From stadiums to sit-downs with Oprah, Sam’s impact has been felt on and off the field. The seventh of eight children, he persevered through tragedy. He lost two siblings, watching one die from a gunshot wound, while two of his other siblings are in prison. He became the first member of his family to attend college when he was offered a football scholarship from the University of Missouri. He came out to his coaches and teammates, but then came out publicly ahead of the NFL via The New York Times in 2014, creating a media storm around his opportunity to make history. Even First Lady Michelle Obama shared her excitement.
Even though a poll at the time said 86 percent of polled NFL players would welcome an openly gay teammate, Sam did face his fair share of backlash and criticism. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round, making his professional debut in August of 2014, but was released from the team later that month. Just two days later, the Dallas Cowboys added Sam to their practice team, but they would waive him the following October.
Despite these setbacks, Sam has continued to be a magazine coverboy and media darling. See some of our favorite Michael Sam moments, AFTER THE JUMP …