On Sunday, NFL prospect Michael Sam came out as gay in an interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and The New York Times.
“I came to tell the world that I’m am an openly, proud gay man,” Sam told ESPN’s Chris Connelly.
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“How does it feel to say those words to the world?” Connelly asked the defensive end.
“It’s a load off my chest!” Sam exclaimed. “I told my teammates this past August that I came out to my teammates, and they took it great. They rallied around me, they supported me, and I couldn’t have asked for better teammates.”
If Sam gets drafted in May, he would be the first openly gay player in NFL history.
“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage,” the NFL wrote in statement on Sunday night. “Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
Outsports’s Cyd Zeigler explained in length the backstory of how ESPN and the New York Times got the scoop on Sam coming out:
Sports Illustrated knew everything and they wanted to break the story. Wertheim graciously played ball and agreed to not jump the gun. Following that was news of various interview requests disseminating around the world from CNN, BuzzFeed, Fox Sports, even a reporter from the Dutch version of NPR. Late Saturday night, it was clear that Bleacher Report was aware of the story as well.
While it was a decent chance before Saturday that the story would get leaked publicly, there was suddenly zero percent chance the story would hold until Monday afternoon. Someone would break the news early even if they didn’t have the story. The only thing I felt holding back other media outlets was the firestorm of venom thrown at ESPN and Grantland three weeks earlier for outing a trans woman. If it hadn’t been for the reaction to that story, someone would have already jumped the gun.
Watch Sam’s interview with ESPN below: