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Sam says ‘I am not the only gay person in NFL’

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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 and question and answer session 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’s 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.”

Sam spoke at the 2015 Dallas Holocaust Museum Upstander Speaker series. According to the Star-Telegram, he gave an 11-minute prepared speech, which he said his publicist helped write, before a 35-minute Q&A.

After being drafted by the Rams last May, Sam was waived in the final roster cutdown to 53 players and subsequently signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad. He was released on Oct. 21 and didn’t get a tryout with another team for the rest of the season.

Sam, the former SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, was one of 105 participants in the league’s first veteran combine in Phoenix, where he ran the 40 in 4.99 seconds.

“Hopefully I’m not being discriminated (against) because I’m gay,” Sam said Thursday. “I don’t believe that I’m being discriminated (against) because I’m gay. 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.”

Sam, 25, has been competing on this year’s “Dancing with the Stars.” He cited his NFL unemployment as a possible reason other players haven’t come out.

“Dancing with the Stars is my employer,” Sam said. “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.”


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