Michael Sam was the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year after recording 11.5 sacks. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Michael Sam met with the media at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Saturday. His message was simple — judge me as a football player.
"Well, heck yeah, I just wish you would just say, 'Hey, Michael Sam, how's football going?' I would love to give the answer to that question. But it is what it is. I just wish you guys will see me as Michael Sam the football player, instead of as Michael Sam the gay football player," he said.
The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder out of Missouri wore a rainbow-colored "Stand with Sam" pin on the lanyard around his neck and deftly handled questions about his sexuality and potential bias in the locker room.
"I've been in locker rooms where all kinds of slurs have been said," Sam said. "I don't think anyone means it. It's a little naive and uneducated, but as time goes on, everyone will adapt.
"If someone wants to call me a name, I'll have a conversation with that guy, and hopefully it won't lead to nothing else."
The media contingent around Sam "dwarfed that of any other prospect," including Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney, according to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com.
When asked if his announcement will affect his draft status, Sam said, "I am not a GM. I do not have control over my draft status. All I can control is me preparing myself to put the best scores [combine results] out there.
"I'm a pass-rusher," he added, smiling. "If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I'm going to get the quarterback."