Michael Sam, SEC defensive player of the year, says he is gay
Missouri’s Michael Sam, the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year, led the league with 11.5 sacks in 2013.
Michael Sam is known principally as a fierce and ferocious 260-pound Missouri DE, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a potential high-round pick in May’s NFL draft. From the draftnik’s notebooks: He holds the point of attack. He has a good motor. He can play 4-3 or 3-4. True, Sam played unremarkably at the Senior Bowl last month, but he was stationed for the first time at outside linebacker. His maturity — he’s already 24 — and work ethic reside on the extreme edge of the bell curve.
Yet for all he accomplished in four years at Columbia, Sam became known as something else, something unique in the history of football: an openly gay player on the cusp of his career. Regardless of his 40 yd dash time or his performance in the three-cone drill or his Wonderlic score. Sam is now the most intriguing prospect in the NFL. In an act that is at once courageous, unprecedented and postmodern, he has asserted that he is gay. “I’m Michael Sam. I’m a football player and I’m gay,” he told The New York Times.
A year ago, NFL teams were rightfully criticized for asking potential draft picks questions on the order of “Do you have a girlfriend?” This year, Sam will save them the trouble of having to ask.
If Jason Collins demolished one barrier last year — declaring that he was gay within days of finishing his 12th NBA season — Sam laid ruin to another by coming out before the draft. Where Collins is a Stanford grad from Los Angeles, Sam is more than a decade younger and hails from Hitchcock, Tex. (pop. 7,200). And unlike Collins — who surprised his twin brother with his revelation — Sam’s sexuality was not a closely guarded secret at Missouri. Sam says he came out to his Missouri teammates last August. Coaches and classmates also knew he was gay well before today. Multiple sources have told SI that Sam strongly considered making an announcement late last summer and was willing to play his senior season as an openly homosexual athlete.