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St. Louis Rams pick Michael Sam in NFL draft

Michael Sam Emotional

AP College Football Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Michael Sam was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the NFL draft Saturday, becoming the first openly gay player drafted by a pro football team.

Sam played at Missouri, and came out as gay in media interviews earlier this year. His team and coaches knew his secret and kept it for his final college season.

He went on to have the best year of his career: He was the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year.

He was taken with the 249th overall pick out of 256. He'll start his professional career not far from the place where he played his college ball.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam was considered a mid-to-late round pick, far from a sure thing to be drafted. He played defensive end in college, but he's short for that position in the NFL and slower than most outside linebackers, the position he'll need to transition to at the professional level.

The impact of his selection goes far beyond football. At a time when gay marriage is gaining acceptance among Americans, Sam's entry into the NFL is a huge step toward the integration of gay men into professional team sports. Pro sports have in many ways lagged behind the rest of society in acceptance.

Publicly, most people in and related to the NFL have been supportive of Sam. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said Sam would be welcome in the league and judged solely on his ability to play. A few wondered whether teams would be reluctant to draft Sam because of all the media attention that would come with it.

Fair or not, the NFL - coming off a season in which a bullying scandal involving players on the Miami Dolphins was one of the biggest stories in sports - was looking at a possible public relations hit if Sam was not drafted. He would likely have been signed as a free agent and given a chance to make a team in training camp, but to many it would have looked as if he was being rejected.

Now that he's here, it could be seen as an opportunity for the NFL to show that crass locker room culture is not as prevalent as it might have looked to those who followed the embarrassing Dolphins scandal.

Join the discussion

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champ3x7 May 11 2014 at 2:13 AM

I believe gays should be neither ridiculed nor celebrated, but left to their own lives. Problem is, they "come out" and when it gets bad, they cry hatred. I've never believed gays were bad people. They no more choose what they are than I chose to be heterosexual. That's where I stop agreeing with their cause........because when they say they are as "normal" as I am, I will fight them tooth & nail. There is absolutely nothing "normal" about being attracted to someone of the same sex. The things they obviously do to and for eachother disgusts me, but I never want to see one bullied because of it. If they want to be "accepted", fine. I "accept" them. If they want me to CELEBRATE them? Fat chance. When they come out in the open with their sexuality, though, I don't think they have much of a leg to stand on when they say they've been ridiculed. It's a "Be careful what you wish for" type of thing.

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5 replies
Tammy is so hot May 11 2014 at 2:52 AM

congratulations!!!! uch exciting news!!!! good luck young man!

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1 reply
briabran Tammy is so hot May 11 2014 at 9:01 AM

Good luck to all of the football players that made it in the NFL...we truly recognize that it was your innate talent and hard work on the field, not anything else, that put you on that stage. Let's now concentrate on playing football.

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rikrobo May 11 2014 at 2:53 AM

He's making a big splash because of his sexuality. I just read an article saying that several experts have rated him at skill levels lower than needed for professional football and the possibility of him actually making it in the NFL is slim. So who will he sue for discrimination when he gets dropped because he is no good?

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1 reply
fisheadnj rikrobo May 11 2014 at 3:03 AM

Your right, this is about politics and making statements not sports. If the gay lobby was truely about "acceptance and equaliy" they would not support this blatant attempt at advertising this lifestyle. Or maybe they would. In any event I do not see this going well for him.

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cgo4855 May 11 2014 at 12:21 PM

Looks like some of you are showing your ignorance. What does his sexual preference have to do with football? Do they screw in the locker rooms or what? Lets all come into the 21st century.

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1 reply
indianajons cgo4855 May 11 2014 at 12:23 PM

Jerry Sandusky anyone??? Does that answer your question???

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2 replies
indianajons indianajons May 11 2014 at 12:25 PM

Anybody gonna touché that for me?

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Susan indianajons May 11 2014 at 1:53 PM

Jerry Sandusky is a predator who sexually attacked innocent children .Michael Sam is a gay man who has consensual relationships with men his own age. There is a very big difference. If you can't see the difference, I feel sorry for you.

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mksrs May 11 2014 at 12:18 PM

He started packing his shiit for St Louise last night.

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1 reply
indianajons mksrs May 11 2014 at 12:19 PM

And I heard he was packing your sh!!t last night....
Not sure what to make of all these rumors...

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1 reply
mksrs indianajons May 11 2014 at 12:51 PM

Oh you fell off on the other side again did you?

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moodbluz May 11 2014 at 3:07 AM

Does peppie think our president is gay?

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Scott May 11 2014 at 3:09 AM

From what I've read about this young man, the ONLY reason he came out was to get the PR that ensued so as to improve his chances in the draft--which apparently were pretty much zero. He doesn't have the talent or skills needed to excel in the NFL. A great PR stunt by his Agent; But in the end, will it work? Or will he be just another washout hopeful?

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1 reply
James M. Adams Scott May 11 2014 at 3:16 AM

He ran a 4.91 at the combine. There are linemen faster than that.

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1 reply
ChasSwartz James M. Adams May 11 2014 at 4:44 AM

He ran a 4.71 on his pro day!

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James M. Adams May 11 2014 at 3:13 AM

The real groundbreaker was Ray Lewis. Anyone can be gay, but blading two rival gang members, getting away with it, and then winning a couple of Super Bowl rings is more impressive than being gay. Imagine the respect you have in the locker room after knifing a couple of guys to death.

He made it to the top: the ESPN crew. Ray, you are a REAL pioneer.

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moodbluz May 11 2014 at 3:15 AM

Peppie, I'm also afraid that you may be ignorant.

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moodbluz May 11 2014 at 3:16 AM

Terminal Illness

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1 reply
banngbanng moodbluz May 11 2014 at 3:52 AM

You have a terminal illness? I'm so sorry to hear that.

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1 reply
James M. Adams banngbanng May 11 2014 at 5:07 AM

I think he was referring to George Michael

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