Michael Sam tells Oprah: ‘I’m not the only gay’

  • People
  • Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team, tells Oprah Winfrey that he is not the only homosexual in pro football.

In his first interview since disclosing his homosexuality earlier in 2014, Sam describes childhood abuse by his two brothers, and expresses surprise that other players in the National Football League have not come out after his announcement.

“There’s a lot of us out there,” the defensive end says in the interview, part of an Oprah Winfrey Network documentary that aired Dec 27, 2014. “I’m not the only one. I’m just the only one who’s open.”

Sam was the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at the University of Missouri before graduating in December 2013. The following February, before the NFL Draft, he announced he was gay. In May, he was picked up by the St. Louis Rams in a late round of the draft.

Michael Sam signing autographs for fans after practice at Rams Park, when he was still playing for the St. Louis Rams in July 2014. He was dropped from the team in August. – Reuters

The Rams cut him in August, but he was immediately picked up by the Dallas Cowboys practice team, only to be cut in October. “There was nothing I could do,” he said Saturday. “The roster was full already and I had to go.”

After he came out, Sam heard from “a few” gay players who privately thanked him for his disclosure and said they wished they had that courage, he says. “They need to come out whenever they feel comfortable for them to come out.”

Sam also reflects on a childhood filled with turmoil, bullied by two brothers whom he believes he will eventually forgive. “I was abused daily,” he tells Winfrey, recalling one incident in seventh grade, when his older brother broke his Most Valuable Player trophies out of jealousy.

Upon graduating college, his mother handed him a letter from one of his brothers, but he chose not to read it. “They made my life very difficult growing up,” he says.

Sam adds that he would hold on to his dream of playing in the NFL during the regular season “as long as I can.” Asked whether he believes he’s not on a team right now because of his homosexuality, Sam said, “I don’t like to think that way. I believe good things are on the horizon.” – Reuters

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