Former St. Louis Rams seventh-round pick Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, insisted other homosexual athletes compete in the league.
In comments made on Thursday at the 2015 Dallas Holocaust Museum Upstander Speaker series, Sam refused to put a number on how many gays compete in the NFL, but claimed that several players contacted him after the 2014 NFL Draft.
“I am not the only gay person in the NFL,” Sam said. “I’m just saying there is a lot of us. I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL.”
Sam washed out of the NFL after a preseason cut by the St. Louis Rams and in-season cut from the taxi squad of the Dallas Cowboys. His poor performance in the forty-yard dash at the recent veterans combine, adjusted downward days later to barely beat five seconds, means it unlikely that Sam lands with an NFL team this coming season.
Sam went on to claim that he thought it “wouldn’t be a big deal” to come out as gay during his first exposure to the public.
“Maybe I was naive. Maybe I thought it was 2014, and people will understand that there’s gay NFL players. There’s gay athletes everywhere. But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal.”
Sam then pledged that he would never out any of the players who contacted him in confidence.
The 2013 All-American player did raise the question over his status in the NFL saying that he hoped that he wasn’t be “discriminated” against because of his homosexuality. But he did hint that he thinks he has been kept out of the league because of his sexual orientation. “I just want to know if I’m truly not in the NFL, it’s because of talent. Let it be because of my talents. But you’ve got to prove that I can’t play this game. If you look at the film, clearly I can. So, I’ll leave it at that,” he said.
The one-time player also said that he is making his living off the TV show Dancing With The Stars.”That’s my main source of income.… I’m unemployed, and I don’t believe I’m out of the NFL because I’m gay. But if it was a reason, it can hurt their livelihood, and you don’t want to take that chance,” he said of the closeted players.
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