Michael Sam, an All-American defensive star for the Missouri Tigers, is certain to be selected in the May NFL draft. A 6-foot-2, 260-pound quarterback-sacking machine – he was the Defensive Player of the Year in the SEC – Sam will be the first publicly gay athlete in any of the major professional sports.
Sam, talking to the New York Times and ESPN, revealed that he announced his sexuality to his team last year. And with the draft approaching, teams have been starting to inquire about Sam, who figures to be drafted anywhere from the 2nd to the 4th round. From the Times:
"At a showcase game for college seniors last month, several scouts asked Mr. Sam’s agent, Joe Barkett, questions about whether Mr. Sam had a girlfriend or whether Mr. Barkett had seen him with women."
Sam’s backstory is uplifting. More from the Times:
"Mr. Sam said he graduated from Missouri in December, the only member of his family to attend college. He grew up in Hitchcock, Tex., near the Gulf Coast about 40 miles southeast of Houston, the seventh of eight children of JoAnn and Michael Sam. It was a difficult childhood; three of his siblings have died, and two brothers are in prison, Mr. Sam said. He was raised mostly by his mother, and he spent some years with another family who took him in. All have been supportive of his coming out, Mr. Sam said."
Obviously, this will be one of the biggest stories in sports in 2014.
College Football Star Michael Sam Says He Is Gay; May Become First Publicly Gay Player in N.F.L. [NYT]