Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from Missouri Tigers and the Associated Press' SEC Defensive Player of the Year, said that he is gay in interviews with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" and the New York Times on Sunday.
Sam stated publicly what his teammates and coaches at Mizzou have known since August: "I am an openly, proud gay man."
Sam is eligible for the NFL draft in May. Assuming that he is drafted, Sam could become the first openly gay player in the history of the NFL.
"I understand how big this is," he said. "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."
In 2014, "Gay Man to Enter Workforce" has the everyday-occurrence sound of a headline in The Onion. But when the NFL is involved, it's a first -- and potentially a landmark moment -- in the history of American sports.
Sam's decision to speak out now comes after his experience two weeks ago at the Senior Bowl, where, he said, many already seemed aware of his sexual orientation.
"I didn't realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me," he said. "I want to own my truth. ... No one else should tell my story but me."
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