Michael Sam, a star defensive end for Missouri who is eligible for the upcoming NFL draft, announced tonight in an interview with the New York Times that he is gay. Here's what we know so far about Sam's past and potential future.
He is a very good player.
On the merits, he would likely be a high draft choice with an excellent chance of making an NFL roster.
He came out to his college teammates before last season.
With Sam's sexual orientation known to everyone on the team, Missouri had one of its best years ever.
Sam said he didn't have any problem with his fellow players after coming out, though his friend and teammate L'Dainlian Washington told the Times that it took some time for team members to learn not to use casually homophobic language in locker-room settings. In any case:
After the season, his teammates voted Sam the team's most valuable player.
The University of Missouri, from which Sam graduated in December, congratulated him tonight via Twitter.
Sam, who has just started tweeting, returned the affection:
He says he decided to come out more publicly now because rumors had started to circulate — and that he would've answered honestly if anyone had asked him this season if he was gay.
In fact, his agents said that scouts were often asking them about Sam's personal life before bringing up football.
In an exclusive behind-the-scenes report at OutSports posted Sunday night, those agents described one aspect of the timing of Sam's announcement: "The decision to speed up the process was cemented at the January Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. ... While scouts were interested in his on-field performance, they seemed equally interested in asking [NFL agents Cameron] Weiss and [Joe] Barkett about their client's personal life."
Barkett told OutSports, "At the Senior Bowl, it was the first question I got from the scouts almost every time."