Michael Sam: See me as a football player, not as a gay football player

Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam speaks during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis Feb. 22, 2014. Sam came out to the entire country Feb. 9, 2014, and could become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
AP Photo

NEW YORK -- At the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, college players are showing off their skills this weekend for a shot at a career in the NFL.

But there's one player yet to take the field who's getting much more attention than all the others.

Surrounded by hundreds of reporters, Michael Sam gave his first press conference since announcing he was gay.

"I just wish you guys will see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player," he said.

The former University of Missouri defensive end sported a rainbow "Stand with Sam" on his combine gear and was asked whether he thought being gay would hurt his chances of getting into the NFL.

"I am not a GM. I do not have control over my draft status. All I control is me preparing myself to put the best scores out," he said.

But if he does get drafted, Sam said he isn't worried about how he'll be treated.

"I have been in locker rooms where all types of slurs have been said. I don't think anyone means it. It's a little naïve and uneducated, but as time goes on, everyone will adapt," he said.

Last week on "Face the Nation," NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth said the league should be ready to accept Sam.

"He's changed the conversation about homophobia in all of sports, and for this it's no longer a question if the NFL is ready for a gay player - the NFL has to be ready. And the onus is on everyone to make sure that he is in a safe workplace," Stallworth said.

Sam is projected as a mid-round pick in the May draft. He starts his NFL combine drills Sunday.