Michael Sam has been selected by the St. Louis Rams, making him the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.
The incoming defensive end sure had to sweat it out: Sam was taken with the 249th overall pick. There are just 256 picks in the entire NFL Draft, which began Thursday evening on ESPN and wrapped up on Saturday.
Being drafted by St. Louis is a bit of a homecoming for Sam. He enjoyed a successful college football career as defensive end of the Missouri Tigers — the state school — where he was named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-American his senior year.
Still, there is somewhat of a dark cloud hanging over the happy moment: the late round selection makes Sam the lowest-drafted SEC Defensive Player of the Year in history.
Sam still has to sign with and make the team before he can technically be referred to as the first openly gay NFL player, but nobody can deny that he has the talent to compete in the league — and now he has the opportunity.
Though he performed very well at the NCAA level, Sam did not have a good showing at the NFL Combine, particularly in both the essential 40-yard dash and vertical leap. Poor numbers at that pro tryout often hurt a player’s draft stock, particularly in the later rounds.
Following the final whistle of his collegiate career, Sam had announced publicly that he is gay.
The newest member of the St. Louis Rams will be presented with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at “The 2014 ESPYS” in Los Angeles on July 19 in Los Angeles.