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NFL notebook: Sam says he’s not only gay NFL player

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Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, said he is not alone as a gay player in the league.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sam declined to estimate how many gay athletes play in the NFL, but he said several players contacted him after the St. Louis Rams made him a seventh-round draft pick last year.

“I am not the only gay person in the NFL,” Sam said during a speech in Dallas on Thursday. “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.

“Was it a risky move? Yes. But at that moment, the reason why I came out is I thought it wasn’t going to be a big deal. Maybe I was naive. Maybe I thought it was 2014, and people will understand that there (are) gay NFL players. There’s gay athletes everywhere. But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal.

“The players who have reached out to me and told me about their sexual orientation, it just means a lot. But I will never say anything about who they are, what teams they are (on). I’m just saying there’s some famous people, and I’m not the only one.”

— The Carolina Panthers claimed offensive tackle Jonathan Martin off waivers and also signed wide receiver Jarrett Boykin to a one-year contract.

Martin was released Thursday by the San Francisco 49ers, one year after the 49ers traded for Martin in the aftermath of a bullying incident in Miami.

The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Martin played in 15 games and started nine last season for the 49ers, who acquired him from the Dolphins last March for a 2015 seventh-round draft pick.

In Miami, Martin was the subject of alleged bullying from former teammate Richie Incognito and had left the team after starting in 23 games over two seasons.

Boykin, 25, played his first three seasons with the Green Bay Packers. In 2013, he caught 49 passes for 681 yards and three touchdowns. But, in 2014, he took a backseat to rookie Davante Adams and caught just three passes for 23 yards in 13 games.

—The Minnesota Vikings signed veteran cornerback Terence Newman to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.

Newman, 36, reunites with coach Mike Zimmer for the third time. Newman also drew interest from the New England Patriots.

In his 12-year career, Newman has started 172 of 174 games played and recorded 786 tackles and 37 interceptions.

Newman, the fifth overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2003, played in Zimmer’s defenses in Dallas (2002-2006) and Cincinnati (2012-2013).

—The Wilf family will contribute an additional $19.5 million toward upgrades to the Vikings’ ongoing $1.06 billion stadium project.

The family contribution, according to owner Mark Wilf, will be nearly $551 million, with the $498 million difference falling to the public, which voted in favor of the stadium to replace antiquated downtown Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Minnesota Twins had been co-tenants of the stadium until constructing their own outdoor venue downtown, Target Field.

—The Chicago Bears signed cornerback Alan Ball to a one-year contract.

The 6-foot-2, 197-pound University of Illinois product has appeared in 93 NFL games, with 44 starts, over eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars.

In 2014, Ball started seven games for the Jaguars, recording 22 tackles and one interception. He missed the final nine games due to a biceps injury.

—The Tennessee Titans re-signed cornerback Brandon Harris to a one-year contract.

A second-round draft pick of the Houston Texans in 2011, Harris played three seasons with Houston before signing with the Titans last year. He made 11 tackles in 11 games as a reserve in 2014.

—The San Francisco 49ers waived cornerback Cameron Fuller.

The 49ers signed the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Fuller to the practice squad on Dec. 16. He was promoted to the active roster on Dec. 26 and was active for the team’s final game against the Arizona Cardinals but did not play.


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