College sports star Michael Sam is set to challenge the macho world of America’s National Football League (NFL) after he came out ahead of its player selections.
Sam, who was named a 2013 Defensive Player of the Year in his senior year at the University of Missouri, is expected to be among the most sought after players to be drafted by the National Football League (NFL) this year.
He bravely made history on Sunday by becoming the first Division I college football player in history to reveal that he is gay. The fact that he’s come out before possibly being selected by an NFL team will test the league’s stance towards choosing gay players.
If selected, he will become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
The 24-year-old said in an interview with The New York Times that he came out to his team-mates last year during a team-building exercise.
“I’m gay,” he told them, after which “they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out.”
In another interview, with ESPN, Sam said that “I came to tell the world that I’m an openly, proudly gay man.” He explained that he knew that he was attracted to men from a young age but that he didn’t tell anyone because he “wanted to find who I was and make sure I knew what was comfortable.”
Sam said that he wants to be drafted by a team that “knows that I’m gay, and also knows that I work hard. That’s the team I want to go to.”
He added: “I understand how big this is. It’s a big deal. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be … I want to be a football player in the NFL.”
Sam revealed that he only told his parents that he is gay 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.”
Hopefully his coming out won’t affect his career. In response to the news, the NFL issued a promising statement saying it admired “Michael Sam’s honesty and courage.”
It added: “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.”