Michael Sam Gets Support From Michelle Obama, Jason Collins After Coming Out

Sam would be the first openly gay NFL player if he gets picked in the upcoming draft.

With some calling him the Jackie Robinson of football, Mizzou defensive end Michael Sam made history over the weekend when he came out in advance of the NFL draft.

The 24-year-old All-American University of Missouri Tigers star let his teammates know he was gay last August, but when he revealed it to the world in a series of high-profile interviews, Sam instantly earned the distinction of potentially becoming the first active openly gay player in NFL history.
“I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out,” Sam told the paper about his teammates’ reaction.

The NFL released a statement saying it admired his courage and honesty. “Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”

Now it’s time for the world to react to the news and, not surprisingly, Sam is getting a lot of support from both the football world and those outside of sports for his brave decision to break one of the biggest barriers in professional sports. While NBA journeyman Jason Collins opened the door a bit last year by coming out while not actively playing hoops, it remains to be seen how, or if, Sam’s revelation will impact what most have predicted will be a potentially exciting pro career.

Here are some prominent reactions to Sam’s announcement:

Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber said it was about time the NFL “show its colors.”

Hall of Fame cornerback/receiver Deion “Prime Time” Sanders noted that Sam isn’t, technically, the first gay player in the NFL, but just the first to announce it at the beginning of his career.

Read All About Sam’s Decision To Come Out.

First Lady Michelle Obama called Sam an “inspiration” and said she and President Obama were proud of his courage.

Collins, who has not played in the NBA since his announcement, spent the weekend with Sam helping him navigate the reaction to the announcement and also praised his leadership.

There were, of course, some detractors and people who were less than supportive, including inactive wide receiver Chad Johnson, who wrote, “That took some courage but man his draft stock is going to plummet even though it should be based on production and how he can contribute!!”

Sam, though, chose to focus on the positive and thank those who encouraged him.

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