Michael Sam says there are 'a lot' of gay players in NFL

Michael Sam says there are a lot of gay players in the NFL

Michael Sam may have been the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, but he says there are "a lot" of gay players in the league.

While speaking during a question-and-answer session in Dallas on Thursday, Sam said he has spoken to multiple NFL players who are gay who reached out to him after he made his announcement in February 2014.

"I'm just saying there is a lot of us," Sam said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL.

"The players who have reached out to me and told me about their sexual orientation, it just means a lot," he said. "But I will never say anything about who they are, what teams they are [on]. I’m just saying there’s some famous people, and I’m not the only one."

Sam, 25, said he understands the decision by many players not to discuss their sexual orientation since some feel it might hurt their prospects at playing in the NFL, "and you don't want to take that chance." He also said he underestimated the response he would receive by announcing he was gay.

"Was it a risky move? Yes," Sam said. "But at that moment, the reason why I came out is I thought it wasn't going to be a big deal. Maybe I was naive. Maybe I thought it was 2014, and people will understand that there's gay NFL players. There's gay athletes everywhere. But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal."

Sam, who recently took part in the NFL Veteran Combine, was selected in the seventh round of last year's draft by the St. Louis Rams. A former Southeastern Conference co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, Sam was cut by the Rams during the preseason. He later joined the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad before being released in October.

Sam is a contestant on the ABC reality television program, "Dancing With the Stars."

Although Sam's chances of playing in the NFL appear slim, he remains confident he can play in pro football's top level.

"I don't believe that I'm being discriminated [against] because I'm gay," he said. "I just want to know if I'm truly not in the NFL, it's because of talent. Let it be because of my talents. But you've got to prove that I can't play this game. If you look at the film, clearly I can. So, I'll leave it at that." 

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