Sunday, star Missouri football player Michael Sam announced he was gay. The All-America
defensive end – who is projected to be a 2nd or 3rd-round
pick in the NFL draft – could become the first openly gay player in America's
most popular sport.
"Hopefully it will be the same like my locker room," he told ESPN.
It remains to be seen how he will be received in NFL locker rooms but some current and former players took to Twitter to voice support for Sam.
Had multiple convos with @MikeSamFootball this year, amazed at his honesty & courage! Once a tiger, ALWAYS a Tiger!— Chase Daniel (@ChaseDaniel) February 10, 2014
Hats off to you Michael Sam, that takes some guts #respect— Jonathan A. Martin (@J_Martin71) February 10, 2014
I could care less about a man's sexual preference! i care about winning games and being respectful in the locker room!— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) February 10, 2014
I applaud Missouri DE @MichaelSamfootball for his bravery & honesty about who he is. I pray he gets a opportunity 2 play the game he loves!— DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) February 10, 2014
Great courage by SEC Def POY...It's time for the NFL to show it's colors!⚡️"NFL Prospect Michael Sam Comes Out http://t.co/HRKzwUeS2M"— Tiki Barber (@TikiBarber) February 10, 2014
After getting to know Michael Sam over the course of the last few weeks, I am very impressed with what I learned... http://t.co/IvhyLvrMi9— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) February 10, 2014
That took some courage but man his draft stock is going to plummet even though it should be based on production and how he can contribute‼️— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) February 10, 2014
However, the reaction wasn't all positive. The New York Daily News reported that Giants defensive back Charles James tweeted:
Wow! Huge news out of Missouri! Good for Michael Sam, a brave move.— Khaled Holmes (@KhaledHolmes) February 10, 2014
“1.) your business is your business I don’t care! 2.) When did this become a
heroic act? I just want to come out and let everybody know that I am ...
straight as hell.”
A handful of players have previously stated that they would be uncomfortable with a gay man in the locker room, including New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma.
“Imagine if he’s the guy next to me, and you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me, how am I supposed to respond?” Vilma told the NFL Network in an interview last week.
James Brown, the host of "The NFL Today" on CBS Sports and a CBS
News special correspondent, said Vilma is "not in the minority with respect to that attitude."
CBSSports.com senior NFL columnist Pete Prisco asked a handful of NFL players last year how they think a gay player would be received in the locker room. Prisco said the reactions were mixed but the bottom line is a star would be welcomed much easier than a backup.
"If Sam can get 15 sacks, nobody will care because he would be essential," Prisco writes. "If he's a special teams player, it might be harder, based on what the players told me."