History indeed took place Saturday afternoon, as Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted in NFL history. It took the 249th pick overall for the St. Louis Rams to select the Missouri defensive end and SEC Defensive Player of the Year. It was a day of emotion, a day of progress and a day excitement for Sam and it also symbolizes history in progress.
Sam has been a major topic of discussion since he announced he was gay back in February. The Rams draft pick was one of the most discussed players entering the draft and Saturday his selection answered one of the most asked questions centering around the NFL. Is the league ready for an openly gay player? The St. Louis Rams answered that question and Sam was overcome by emotion and became more motivated than ever. In a conference call with the St. Louis media, Sam let that emotion spill out.
“Let me tell you something, If we were playing the Vikings right now, I’d probably have three sacks the first game. Since February and my big announcement, this has been a whole [lot of] speculation of the first openly gay football player, but you know what? It’s not about that. It’s about playing football.”
Sam has been sending the message that he loves the game of football since coming out. He wants to be judged by his performance on the field and not who he is off the field. While there are many who feel he should’ve kept his personal life behind closed doors, there are just as many people inspired by his courage and his freedom. On Saturday, the football player got to enjoy a moment he has dreamed about. He got to share tears of joy with his family and his boyfriend freely.
St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said they valued Sam as a player and believes he can truly help their team. He believes they added a talented player, a trailblazer and made the kind of history with the selection that they can be proud of. He said, “This is the second historic moment in the history of this franchise. From that standpoint, from a historic standpoint, I’m honored to be a part of that.”
Michael Sam also received support from several teammates on Twitter. He also received a congratulatory statement from President Barack Obama who wrote, “from the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are.” While Sam made a major leap by being drafted, history is still in progress because now he has to be focused on making the team.
In expressing his excitement, he also sent a message to the rest of the NFL. Sam said, “I am overwhelmed, I am excited and I’m proud to be a Ram. I knew I was going to get picked somewhere and every team that passed me I was thinking of how I am going to sack their quarterback.”