Top NFL prospect from SEC comes out as gay

Add this share

A top player from what's arguably the top conference in college football came out on Sunday and Michael Sam could, within months, become the NFL's first openly gay jock.

Sam had an orchestrated coming out Sunday in coverage by the New York Times, ESPN and Outsports, a few months ahead of the NFL draft in May. That's when the first team All-American from the University of Missouri is expected to be picked as high as the third round. And if he is signed by one of the NFL's 32 teams, he'll become the first openly gay player in the country's largest professional sports league.

Sam made the pronouncement proudly and coolly, understanding its significance but making it clear that he wants his shot at pro football even more. He came out to teammates before last season, a campaign that ended with a 12-2 record and a Cotton Bowl win for Missouri.

“Once I became official to my teammates, I knew who I was,” Mr. Sam said. “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.”

On the record, the NFL backs Sam and issued an encouraging statement.


So did other players in the league. But anonymously, some NFL executives said Sam's coming out may make getting to the NFL daunting.

But AJC sports columnist Jeff Schultz says that Sam's experience coming out to his college teammates should carry over to the NFL.

The fact that Sam’s homosexuality is now out in the open will lead to media attention for an NFL team that Missouri didn’t have to deal with. But nobody can question Sam’s teammates supported him. The locker room was fine. The team was fine. There’s no reason why that support shouldn’t carry over into the NFL.

Sam created a Twitter account on Sunday to thank his family and team. Within 14 hours, he gained nearly 49,000 followers.





Project Q Atlanta goes on hiatus after 14 years

On Sept. 1, 2008, Project Q Atlanta promised a hyper-local “queer media diet” for Atlanta. The site set out to bring LGBTQ news, in-depth...

Photos catch Purple Dress Run invading Midtown

After three years of pandemic-inflicted limitations, Atlanta’s gay rugby squad let loose on one of its most popular events. The Atlanta Bucks Purple Dress...

Ooo Bearracuda: Photos from Bear Pride’s Main Event

The seventh annual Atlanta Bear Pride hit the ground running on Friday with packed houses at Woofs, Heretic and Future. Turned out, they hadn’t...

Atlanta Bear Pride set to go hard and long all weekend

That low, growing growl you hear is a nation of gay bears headed for Atlanta Bear Pride this weekend. By the time they arrive,...

PHOTOS: Armorettes bring back Easter Drag Race magic

Gay Atlanta’s queens of do-good drag brought the sunshine to a cloudy afternoon on Saturday when Heretic hosted the triumphant return of Armorettes Easter...