Michael Sam made history as the first openly gay NFL player when he came out in February of last year.
But after being dropped from two teams and having recently stepped away from the sport entirely, Sam told sportscaster Dan Patrick that he would still be playing professionally if he’d kept quiet about his sexuality.
“I wanted to come out after I made an NFL roster. It really wasn’t supposed to be public,” Sam, who first came out to his teammates at the University of Missouri before letting the world know, said on Friday’s “Dan Patrick Show.”
However, some reporters already knew of his sexuality and Sam was scared that they would leak it before he got the chance. “I wanted to be the one to tell my own story. I didn’t want someone telling it for me,” he told Patrick.
When asked if his openness damaged his NFL prospects, Sam replied: “I’m not going to say that, but it probably would have been better for me if I didn’t come out. I would be on a roster.
“But, as I said, I have no regrets whatsoever,” he added.
Sam was cut from the St. Louis Rams before the start of the 2014 season and then from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. As for why he then quit the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, the former SEC Defensive Player of the Year said, “I wasn’t getting better as a football player, that was one of the main keys.
“It was a different defense, a defense I wasn’t used to, and all the stuff I learned from the Rams, the Cowboys, I thought I was losing that technique in Montreal,” he explained.
At the time, Sam tweeted that he was leaving the team north of the border due to mental health issues.
“The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health,” he wrote. “I am going to step away from
Sam was the recipient of the 2014 Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYs, the year before Caitlyn Jenner was granted the honor.
He went on to become a contestant on Season 20 of “Dancing With the Stars,” but was eliminated in the fourth week of the ABC competition.
“The Dan Patrick Show” broadcasts on Premiere Radio Networks and on NBCSN.
Watch video of Sam’s interview with Dan Patrick below.