May 10, 2014 | by Michael K. Lavers
Michael Sam becomes first out gay man drafted to NFL
Michael Sam, football, Missouri, gay news, Washington Blade

The St. Louis Rams on Saturday picked Michael Sam in the seventh round of the National Football League draft. (Photo by Marcus Qwertyus; courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

Michael Sam on Saturday became the first openly gay man drafted into the National Football League after the St. Louis Rams picked him in the seventh round.

ESPN broadcast a video that showed the former University of Missouri defensive end breaking down as he received the telephone call from Rams coach Jeff Fisher that told him the team had picked him. His boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, was among those who were him in San Diego.

 

Fisher noted during a post-draft press conference that his team in 1946 drafted the first African American into the league.

“This is a second historic moment in the history of this franchise,” he said. “I’m honored to be part of it. Michael’s a good football player. They’re pretty excited to have him in the building.”

Rams defensive end Robert Quinn told Dan Hellie of the NFL Network that Sam has “proven himself on the field” with the Associated Press naming him the 2013 defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference. He was also selected as one of 10 unanimous first-team All-Americans.

“He’s a great player,” Quinn told Hellie. “He proved himself while he was in college.”

Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins, who is the first openly gay person to play in a major American professional sports league, are among those who congratulated Sam.

“The St. Louis Rams just helped athletes everywhere feel more confident in their ability to be who they are and play the game they love,” said former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. “I am thrilled that Michael Sam is being judged by his ability on the football field and look forward to supporting him in anyway to ensure that that he finds a welcoming environment in the NFL.”

“We congratulate Michael Sam and the St. Louis Rams on their terrific decision to draft him,” added Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Today, LGBT young people can look to Sam as proof that being open and proud of who you are doesn’t keep you from achieving your dreams.”

President Obama also congratulated Sam, the Rams and the NFL.

“From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are,” a White House official told the Washington Blade on Sunday.

The Miami Dolphins late on Sunday announced it had fined safety Don Jones after he described Sam kissing Cammisano as “horrible” on Twitter.

The team also suspended Jones until he completes “education training for his recent comments.”

“We met with Don today about respect, discrimination and judgment,” said Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin in a statement. “These comments are not consistent with the values and standards of our program. We will continue to emphasize and educate our players that these statements will not be tolerated.”

Jones apologized.

“I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment,” he said.

Sam, 24, came out in a February during a series of interviews with the New York Times and ESPN.

“Michael Sam has made a historic and courageous decision to live his authentic truth for the world to see,” said National Black Justice Coalition CEO Sharon Lettman-Hicks after Sam came out. “Sam continues the tradition of breaking down barriers for not only LGBT athletes who dream of playing professional sports, but all LGBT people, young and old, who seek to live openly, honestly and safely in their neighborhoods and communities.”

Sam on Thursday signed an endorsement deal with Visa.

Sam’s spokesperson, Howard Bragman, told the Washington Blade on Saturday the defensive end is not available for interviews.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

5 Comments
  • I am very happy for Michael Sam and truly wish him the best of luck. I’m shock that his boyfriend is a skinny white male. What’s up with black athletes once they think they have arrived, they prefer white partners thinking white gay and straight America will accept them? There are plenty of attractive black brothers out here and Michael Sam couldn’t find an attractive gay black man? Another thing I noticed in the video, there were all white people and where is Sam’s black family and friends?

  • MKL…I'm glad that you're happy for him, however, your back-handed comment somewhat discredits your so-called enthusiasm. What the hell kind of a statement is that to make about someone's personal freedom of choice, in whom to date.

    I won't even bother to comment on the extent of your remaining racial bigotry. Here's an idea, Re-think why you're happy for Michael Sam and if you decide you're still happy for him, say congratulations and let that be it, otherwise, you sound like you have many issues with Michael Sam and your accolades are just trumped up bull!

    • Keith, yes I have a problem with an openly black sports figure passing over attractive gay black men for a white male just to be accepted by white America. Most white gay men don’t even look or see black men as attractive, unless they are some old white man. The other openly black sports figures and CNN Dom Lemon have chosen white gay male partners because they think by having all white friends and a white partner, they have arrived and they will be accepted by white America. Both O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and Tiger Woods thought this, until white America turned against them and they came running to black America for support. Here’s a wake up call, racism is more embedded in the gay community. It’s alleged, Michael Sam white boyfriend dated a snow queen porn star, Austin Wilde. If Michael Sam wasn’t an NFL player, I doubt Vitto would have hooked up with him. This white boy see dollar signs just like the white women that flock outside the NBA locker rooms looking to hook up with a black wealthy NBA player. I didn’t see any of Michael Sam’s black friends, his black mother, or black family members on the ESPN news piece. Reporters kept referring to the people in the video as his family. As a gay black man, I have a problem with black gay men that only date white men to be accepted by white America. The majority of whites in America view or see blacks as inferior. Too might light skin or mulatto blacks passed for white during Jim Crow and today in 2014 because the black race is seen as inferior around the world. Come to ‘Black Gay Pride’ on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, DC Keith. It might be a learning experience for you.

  • Correction:

    You are correct, Black Knight. As a gay black male, Michael Sam couldn’t find a masculine muscular black gay male? I was surprised his partner is a skinny white male. Too many black sports players that’s successful choose a white female or white gay male as a sexual partner. Tiger Woods come to mind and Tiger looks like the average black man walking down Georgia Avenue, NW. Michael’s kiss show he loves playing in the snow. Where is Michael Sam’s black family members and black friends in the ESPN video? All I see him surrounded by are white folks. Another attracted gay black male preferring a white partner over an attractive black gay male. White America will never accept Michael Sam, gay or straight.

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