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.

49ers Player Apologizes for Making Anti-Gay Remarks

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:

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.

Sam, a defensive end, registered 11.5 sacks last season and was named SEC co-defensive player of the year. Read more at