First Openly Gay Athlete Drafted into NFL

Dan Staggs

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In a new benchmark for America's growing acceptance of public figures' LGBT identities, Michael Sam has been drafted to play football for the St. Louis Rams. Sam, who came out as gay in February of this year, was much-discussed prior to the 2014 NFL draft for his strong performance at the University of Missouri and the media frenzy surrounding his sexuality. Sam was ultimately the 249th player drafted, out of an available 256 positions, as St. Louis' seventh-round pick. TIME magazine reports: ESPN cameras that were with Sam recorded him breaking down in tears and kissing his boyfriend after getting the draft call from Rams coach Jeff Fisher. Sam also got a congratulatory message from President Barack Obama in the form of a White House statement issued Saturday. “The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation’s journey,” the statement read. “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 some are disappointed that he was not chosen earlier in the draft process, Sam still makes history as the first openly gay player in the NFL and the second in a major American sport, after Jason Collins of the NBA.

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Dan Staggs is an intern at In These Times.
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