Michael Sam Drafted By Rams, Becomes First Openly Gay NFL Player

The NFL now has its first ever openly gay player as Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday. Sam, a defensive lineman at the University of Missouri, was already the most high-profile openly gay football player after coming out in February; however, it was unclear until now whether he’d actually be drafted by. It had appeared early on that he might be passed over — but the Rams picked him in the seventh round of the draft, and he’ll start playing in September.

Sam’s decision to come out was a big deal, considering that the NFL — along with most major league sports — has something of a reputation for homophobia. When, shortly thereafter, ESPN’s Chris Connelly asked him about the prospect of being the first openly gay NFL player, Sam simultaneously acknowledged and downplayed the distinction.

“You know, Chris, I don’t really look at it like that,” Sam said. “I’m just Michael Sam, and I’m a football player. I want to be a football player in the NFL. I understand how big this is. This is a big deal, because no one has done it.”

A camera crew was present when the pick was announced, and ESPN broadcast Sam’s emotional reaction to learning that he’d been drafted.

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After the pick was official, Sam suggested that maybe he should have been drafted a bit sooner.