Michael Sam was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the NFL draft on Saturday, becoming the first publicly gay player to be drafted by a professional football team.
As a senior for Missouri, Sam was a first-team all-American and was named the Associated Press defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference. Sam went public about his sexual orientation in February. "I am an openly, proud gay man," he told the AP.
"I understand how big this is," he later said to ESPN. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."
He also spoke about the mostly positive response from teammates and fans. "I was kind of scared, even though they already knew. Just to see their reaction was awesome. They supported me from Day One. I couldn't have better teammates. ... I'm telling you what: I wouldn't have the strength to do this today if I didn't know how much support they'd given me this past semester," he said.
Though he is entering uncharted territory in the NFL, Sam clearly has a lot of support behind him.
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