Michael Sam cried tears of joy in officially becoming the NFL’s first openly gay player when the St. Louis Rams selected him with the 249th pick in the NFL Draft on Saturday. But when the former Missouri defensive end had a moment to reflect, he thought that he deserved to be drafted way earlier than the eighth-to-last selection.
"From last season alone, I should've been in the first three rounds,” Sam said via the Rams official website. “SEC Defensive player of the year, All-American [in 2013]. I should have gone in the top three rounds easily."
Despite the reflective sentiment, Sam experienced sheer joy when Rams coach Jeff Fisher called him Saturday to inform him that St. Louis was selecting him in the draft. The image and video of Sam kissing his boyfriend upon receiving the news set social media outlets ablaze over the weekend, with an outpouring of support and negativity alike. One NFL player even decided to take an early shot at Sam during his moment.
Miami Dolphins defensive back Don Jones tweeted “OMG” and “horrible,” reacting to the news of Sam being drafted and seeing the picture or video of Sam kissing his boyfriend.
After the Dolphins fined him an undisclosed amount for his remarks, Jones apologized to Sam.
"I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made [Saturday] night on social media," Jones said in a public statement as reported by ESPN. "I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment."
Despite Sam being selected 249th and not within the first three rounds like he thought he deserved, Fisher believes the defensive end has talent that will translate to the NFL.
"Look at the production the kid had, playing in the SEC," Fisher told USA Today, referring to Sam’s 10.5 sacks last season in one of the nation’s tougher conferences.
"I feel like I know him already, because of all the attention that his courage provided," Fisher also commented. "And I'd hope that he already feels that he knows me. I have a lot of respect for everything that it took for him to take the approach that he took."
Although being drafted was the first step, Sam will still have to earn an official roster spot to make the team.
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(Photo: AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File)