A University of Missouri star projected to be drafted into the NFL looks set to become the first publicly gay pro football player.
All-American defensive lineman Michael Sam said he told his teammates and coaches last year, “I’m gay," according to interviews with The New York Times and on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program on Sunday.
“I am an openly, proud gay man,” Sam told ESPN.
He recounted telling his teammates at Missouri at a preseason practice. “I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out,” he told The New York Times.
The 6-foot-2, 260-pound senior was the defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, widely regarded as the top league in college football. He is projected to be a high draft pick in May’s NFL draft.
“I understand how big this is," Sam told ESPN. “It’s a big deal. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be… I want to be a football player in the NFL.”