Free-agent defensive end Michael Sam says that he is not the only gay player in the NFL.
Sam became the first openly gay player selected in the NFL draft when the St. Louis Rams chose him in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
He was cut at the end of training camp after making three sacks during the preseason and was signed by the Dallas Cowboys to their practice squad, spending seven weeks with the team before he was released in October.
“I am not the only gay person in the NFL,” Sam said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m just saying there is 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.”
Last month, Sam told Sports Illustrated's Robert Klemko that there were other gay players in the NFL.
Sam worked out at the veterans combine in Arizona last weekend, running a 4.99 40-yard dash. He admits coming out was a “risky move” and didn’t think it was going to be a big deal.
“Maybe I was naive,” Sam said. “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 is currently competing on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
“Dancing with the Stars is my employer,” Sam said. “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 says he has not talked to his father since February 2014, when the New York Times published a story detailing Sam’s upbringing in Hitchcock, Texas.
Sam sent his father a text saying he was gay, prompting Michael Sam, Sr. to tell the newspaper, “I’m old school.... I’m a man-and-a-woman type of guy.”
The younger Sam says those comments and others made in the article were “unforgivable.”
“I still love him, but I can love him from afar,” Sam said.
- Scooby Axson