Michael Sam made history by becoming the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft, but that’s hardly the end of the story. Sam participated in a Q&A session while in Dallas Thursday and offered his thoughts on his closeted colleagues.
“I am not the only gay person in the NFL,” Sam said. “I’m just saying there [are] a lot of us. I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL.”
Perspective is everything.
“Was it a risky move? Yes. But at that moment, the reason why I came out is I thought it wasn’t going to be a big deal. Maybe I was naive. Maybe I thought it was 2014, and people will understand that there’s gay NFL players. There’s gay athletes everywhere. But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal,” Sam said.
The closeted players will not be named by Sam, he told the crowd. “The players who have reached out to me and told me about their sexual orientation, it just means a lot. But I will never say anything about who they are, what teams they are [on]. I’m just saying there’s some famous people, and I’m not the only one.”
According to ESPN, Sam, the former SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, was taken by the Rams in the seventh round of the 2014 draft but didn’t make the team. He has been a free agent since the Dallas Cowboys released him from their practice squad October 21 and was one of 105 participants in the league’s first veteran combine, where he ran the 40 in 4.99 seconds.
Sam asked for the truth next.
“Hopefully I’m not being discriminated [against] because I’m gay,” Sam said. “I don’t believe that I’m being discriminated [against] because I’m gay. I just want to know if I’m truly not in the NFL, it’s because of talent. Let it be because of my talents. But you’ve got to prove that I can’t play this game. If you look at the film, clearly I can. So, I’ll leave it at that.”
Currently, Sam can be spotted ballroom dancing on the popular television show Dancing with the Stars on ABC.
“Dancing with the Stars is my employer. That’s my main source of income. I’m unemployed, and I don’t believe I’m out of the NFL because I’m gay. But if it was a reason, it can hurt their livelihood, and you don’t want to take that chance,” Sam added as to why some players might choose to keep their sexuality under wraps.