Michael Sam becomes NFL’s first openly gay player
Former American college footballer Michael Sam has become the first openly gay player in the history of the National Football League (NFL) after being drafted last Saturday (10 May).
The 24-year-old defensive lineman was selected by the Missouri-based team St Louis Rams on the final day of the 2014 NFL Draft, a three-day event in which promising college stars are picked to join top-tier professional teams.
In a statement issued by the White House, the United States President Barack Obama congratulated the player:
"The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation's journey.
“From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are.”
Dolphins player fined for homophobic response
Shortly after learning of his selection by phone, Michael Sam turned to his boyfriend and kissed him. The action, which was broadcast on live television, sparked several homophobic responses.
Don Jones, a Miami Dolphins player, reportedly tweeted “OMG” and “Horrible” after the St. Louis Rams’ player was selected.
The Miami's defensive back has since been fined an undisclosed sum for the homophobic response, temporarily discharged from the team and is set set to enroll in educational training.
“I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media,” said Jones in a statement on Sunday.
“I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment.” he added.
NFL prospect comes out
In February, Michael Sam came out on a video published on New York Times website.
“I’m Michael Sam. I’m a football player and I’m gay” said the 24 year-old.
On his decision to come out Sam explained:
“I just want to own my truth before anyone breaks a story about me”.
At the time some pundits speculated that teams might be put off from selecting Sam by the publicity surrounding the player.
Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I'm using every once of this to achieve greatness!! pic.twitter.com/QESdOJVzsw
— Michael Sam (@MikeSamFootball) May 10, 2014
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