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Michael Sam Picked By St. Louis Rams, First Open Gay NFL Player

Society & Culture  (tags: americans, culture, Football, gayrights, media, rights, society, violence )

- 1504 days ago -
Michael Sam was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the NFL draft Saturday, becoming the first openly gay player drafted by a pro football team.

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Kit B (276)
Monday May 12, 2014, 6:09 am
Photo Credit:

Michael Sam was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the NFL draft Saturday, becoming the first openly gay player drafted by a pro football team.

"Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I'm using every ounce of this to achieve greatness!!" Sam tweeted moments after he was picked, with a picture of himself wearing a Rams cap and a pink polo shirt.

The impact of Sam's selection goes far beyond football. At a time when gay marriage is gaining acceptance among Americans, Sam's entry into the NFL is a huge step toward the integration of gay men into professional team sports. Pro sports have in many ways lagged behind the rest of society in acceptance.

Sam played at Missouri, and came out as gay in media interviews earlier this year. His team and coaches knew about his sexuality prior to the public statement, but kept his secret during his final college season. He went on to have the best season of his career: He was the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year.

The pick came after several rounds of suspense. The first round of the day came and went without Sam being picked. Then the second, and the third, and finally, the day was down to just a handful of picks.

When Mike Kensil, the NFL's vice president of game operations, walked to the podium at Radio City Music Hall in the draft's final minutes to announce the Rams' second-to-last pick, the crowd got a sense something was up. Very few of the last day picks were announced at the podium. Twitter lit up with suggestions the Rams were about to make news.

When Kensil said: "The St. Louis Rams select ... Michael Sam..." fans gave a hearty cheer, chanting "Yes! Yes! Yes!" and "Michael Sam!"

Sam will start his professional career not far from the place where he played his college ball, with three former Missouri teammates.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam was considered a mid-to-late round pick, far from a sure thing to be drafted. He played defensive end in college, but he's short for that position in the NFL and slower than most outside linebackers, the position he'll need to transition to at the professional level.

He was taken with the 249th overall pick out of 256. Players from Marist, Maine and McGill University in Canada were selected before Sam.

"In the world of diversity we live in now, I'm honored to be a part of this," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said during an interview on ESPN.

Publicly, most people in and related to the NFL have been supportive of Sam.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said Sam would be welcome in the league and judged solely on his ability to play. A few wondered whether teams would be reluctant to draft Sam because of all the media attention that would come with it.

Fair or not, the NFL was looking at a possible public relations hit if Sam was not drafted. Had he been passed over, Sam would likely have been signed as a free agent and given a chance to make a team in training camp, but to many it would have looked as if he was being rejected.

The Associated Press | Al Jazeera

Past Member (0)
Monday May 12, 2014, 8:02 am
Wishing this brave young man great success! Good luck Sam...

Terry King (113)
Monday May 12, 2014, 10:30 am
I am not a big fan of Michael Sam, not because he is gay but because of his incredible arrogance. After his post draft comments I'm afraid he is in for a rude awakening when he hits the NFL.

Mandi T (367)
Monday May 12, 2014, 1:36 pm
I am wishing him good luck and much success

Nancy M (169)
Monday May 12, 2014, 2:04 pm
Truly is great news,


Justin Vale (13)
Monday May 12, 2014, 2:34 pm
why would he kiss a guy in front of cameras?
is he intent on causing a ruckus?
he's making it harder for himself and his teammates.
not that there's anything wrong with showing a loved one you love him.
but couldn't he just chill till he was back home.
this is not gonna end well.

Pat B (356)
Monday May 12, 2014, 2:43 pm
Wishing Mr. Sam the best, and that he has a bright future with the NFL. Thanks, Kit for this.

Rose B (141)
Monday May 12, 2014, 8:00 pm
Wonderful Go Mr Sam

Jonathan Harper (0)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 5:10 am

. (0)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 8:00 am

Lois Jordan (63)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 4:32 pm
Noted. Thanks, Kit. I'm aware of the hoopla surrounding this, and believe it will just die down as people concentrate on the games. As far as the kiss is concerned, I thought it was sweet and nearly brought tears to my eyes. If only others could see past their personal hatred and ignorance.

marie C (163)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 5:09 pm
USA is so much more open than UK
If a football player does not have a gorgeous WAG on his arm he is not so popular
Off hand I can not think of an open gay player
Thanks Kit

JL A (281)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 6:26 pm
Faithful America has a petition to counter the message of the hateful responses from some who call themselves Christians to his open expression of love, like other players have displayed forever.

Robert O (12)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 6:47 pm
I'm so happy for him and was pulling for him since he's a pretty nice guy that knows the value of teamwork and hard work and a good football player that can help lead any team to victory. Thanks Kit.

Justin Vale, would you have held the same opinion if he was not gay and kissed a woman instead? All he was doing was showing his excitement and sharing a happy moment with the person he loves and displaying affection the way anybody else probably would have at such an exciting time. He wasn't advertising or advocating anything or trying to cause trouble. If trouble does result from that video that's because of the ignorant, bigoted troublemakers that will stupidly use any opportunity they can to cause strife and in the process attempt to justify their intolerance and validate their idiocy.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 7:23 pm

I happened to see a thread by Will when this was first announced. It was not directed at the final choice of the Rams so much as a vile twitter that was making the rounds. As Will is a part of the journalist community, I asked how often a foot ball player weeps tears of joy. The answer was just as expected, almost every one of them. Is that so difficult to understand that when someone has the answer that all of their hopes and dreams are finally acknowledged by his peers and those who make the final decision, that tears would be shed? That the person you love would be standing next to you and the response would be as natural as kissing them.

Michael Sam is a remarkable athlete, that his skills are being acknowledged before his sexual orientation is a leap forward. One that we all should celebrate.

DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Tuesday May 13, 2014, 8:48 pm
Good news, people being picked for their professional talents and not what business worries about from some of those fans that hold prejudicial views toward gay football players.

Bruce C D (89)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 1:28 am
A tip of the hat to the Rams for picking him, but it doesn't say much for the NFL as a whole that it wasn't until the end that he was picked. I felt he was more talented than some of the other players picked before him.

Craig Pittman (52)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 3:14 am
Great news all round. He most certainly is not the first gay professional football player but being the first openly gay player bodes well for our society in general.

. (2)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 5:50 am

Panchali Yapa (26)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 10:17 am
Thank you

Birgit W (160)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 2:17 pm

Mitchell D (87)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 4:35 pm
I hope this works out nicely, for him.

Sheri Schongold (7)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 5:06 pm
What is the big deal? He is an able bodied young man who is capable of playing a good game of football!!! Is all this interest in his being gay going to change anything? We should judge him on his ability to play football and his private live should remain private. Good luck Michael. I hope all goes well for you.

Anne K (139)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 6:20 pm
I think there is too much media attention being given to this. It's as if he were the first Martian drafted.

. (0)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 6:25 pm
Agreed, Anne.

Karen Chestney (112)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 8:48 pm
Good for the Rams...they get a Great Big Gold Star. The U.S. is making good progress Now if we could only be as accepting of all people without prejudice..

Debra G (0)
Wednesday May 14, 2014, 10:21 pm
I trust he'll be a good role model in the "I fathered nine kids by nine different women, raped two more and shot my ex to death all while drunk out of my mind" NFL. No? Anyway, thank you RAMS, for a good draft pick.
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