ST. LOUIS – Michael Sam barreled into the history books today with a groundbreaking draft pick by the St. Louis Rams to become the NFL’s first openly gay player. He kissed his boyfriend, which was carried live on ESPN, after hearing the news.
The Rams used their seventh-round pick (No. 249) to grab the now-famous Mizzou defender on day three of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Sam, last year’s SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year came in February and the LGBT community has since been fixated amid a national media frenzy as they “stand with Sam.”
“I think it is great for the St. Louis area,” said Donna Crain of Belleville. “It’s wonderful for the St. Louis gay community and we need to stand by him and cheer him on to make the team. It says the middle of the country is just as progressive as the coast and I think it makes a huge statement about our city.”
“I think it's an important step forward,” added John Zakibe of St. Louis “He's being given the chance. Now let’s see if he makes the team.”
But some question if homophobia still played a role given Sam’s stats.
“It really just means they [The Rams] are the least bigoted of the NFL teams,” said Kansas City resident Jeff Hickman. “He was just a few picks away from not being drafted at all. Even St. Louis overlooked him until the very last minute. But it is historical and a step in the right direction. He won't have a problem making the team.”
The high-motor defender has been praised for his skills and anticipation on the field but Sam has been knocked for his size. Still those in the know say that the 6-foot-2, 255 pounder will bring intensity and drive to Rams Park.
“He stood to lose everything when he disclosed that he was gay,” offered Aaron Laxton of St. Louis. “No one can accuse him of trying to profit from it. I think that it is amazing that he is a man of principle and wanted to make a statement.”