Michael Sam Makes History, Becomes First Openly Gay Player in NFL

Today the St. Louis Rams made history by selecting Missouri’s Michael Sam, as the 249th pick overall in the 2014 NFL draft, making him the first openly gay player in the NFL. Athlete Ally has this response:

Brendon Ayanbadejo, Athlete Ally Board of Directors and Super Bowl XLVII Champion

“Football plays an important and valuable role in cultivating leadership and respect. The St. Louis Rams just helped athletes everywhere feel more confident in their ability to be who they are and play the game they love. I am thrilled that Michael Sam is being judged by his ability on the football field and look forward to supporting him in anyway to ensure that that he finds a welcoming environment in the NFL.”

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonvile Jaguars Tight End and Athlete Ally Ambassador

“Moments like these, where we can celebrate an athlete for being true to who they are, have incredible meaning. Because the NFL is such a powerful cultural force, how Michael Sam is received by his teammates in St. Louis, and around the NFL as a whole, can go a long way for broad based LGBT acceptance and equality throughout society.”

Hudson Taylor, Athlete Ally Founder & Executive Director

“Today we celebrate and amplify that talent is what matters in sport. The St. Louis Rams have made the athletic world proud by drafting Michael Sam and ensuring that his drive, ability and passion for the game are what dictate his future. The NFL’s commitment to inclusion has never been stronger, and the league will undoubtedly benefit from welcoming its first openly gay player onto the turf.”

Brian Ellner, Founding Board Member of Athlete Ally

“Today Michael Sam tore open the last remaining closet in America, and became the first openly gay player to be drafted out of college by a team in one of the big four professional sports. This is a piece of history, an important point on the continuum toward justice and a moment to celebrate.  We are all excited and proud to stand with Sam.”

Akil Patterson, Athlete Ally Youth Programs Leader and former University of Maryland football player

“Michael’s ability to be a proud Black gay NFL player illustrates that anything is possible in today’s NFL. I salute Michael’s courage and the leadership of the NFL’s front office. I am excited to see the talent he brings to the field this season and the impact he has in football and in the lives of all the people it influences. Living one’s truth can never be substituted, and Michael has proven that today.”