Former University of Missouri standout Michael Sam announced over the weekend that he is gay. Projected as a mid-round pick in April's draft, Sam could soon become the league's first openly gay active player.
Sam gave interviews to ESPN and other outlets to make his announcement.
"It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL," he said.
He later started a Twitter account and wrote the following:
— Michael Sam (@MikeSamFootball) February 10, 2014
Numerous NFL players have come out after their playing days were over. NBA veteran Jason Collins revealed he was gay after last season, and is currently not with a team.
At the recent Senior Bowl game for NFL prospects, Sam says he suspected that many people there already knew about his sexuality.
"I didn't realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me, I want to own my truth. ... No one else should tell my story but me," he told ESPN.
Many athletes have taken to Twitter to express support for Sam, including Collins, Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith and NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders.
For the past 2 days I have met with @MikeSamFootball here in LA. He is a great young man who has shown tremendous courage and leadership
— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins34) February 10, 2014
There is no room for bigotry in American sports. It takes courage to change the culture.
— Malcolm Smith (@MalcSmitty) February 10, 2014
Michael Sam isn't the 1st gay player in the NFL although he is the 1st 2 come out.#realtalk Let's show him love like a family member. Truth
— DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) February 10, 2014
Sam, a defensive end, registered 11.5 sacks last season and was named SEC co-defensive player of the year. Read more at FOXSports.com.