Michael Sam could be NFL's first openly gay player

Kevin C. Cox

NFL prospect Michael Sam announced he's gay on Sunday evening, meaning he will likely be the NFL's first openly gay player.

SEC defensive player of the year Michael Sam announced that he was gay on Sunday evening, in an exclusive interview with the New York Times. Once drafted and signed, Sam will be the NFL's first openly gay football player, in what could be a decision that may lead to more players announcing their sexuality.

"Once I became official to my teammates, I knew who I was," Sam told John Branch of the New York Times. "I knew that I was gay. And I knew that I was Michael Sam, who's a Mizzou football player who happens to be gay. I was so proud of myself and I just didn't care who knew. If someone on the street would have asked me, ‘Hey, Mike, I heard you were gay. Is that true?' I would have said yes."

In an interesting note to Sam's story, his Missouri teammates and coaches knew prior to the 2013 season. It didn't appear to be a distraction, as the Tigers went on to win the SEC East and play in the SEC Championship Game.

There had apparently been rumors of Sam's sexuality going around NFL circles and on the internet, so the 24 year old pass rusher decided to let everyone know where he stood.

"I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it," Sam said "I want to own my truth."

Currently Sam is projected to go anywhere in the third- to fifth-round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Sam finished his final season at Mizzou with double-digit sacks, was named a first-team All-American and awarded the SEC defensive player of the year.

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