User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Soccer
Boxing/MMA
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Missouri star Sam could become 1st gay NFL player

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

Tolerance is about to be tested in the National Football League.

Advertisement
And Michael Sam hopes his ability is all that matters, not his sexual orientation.

Missouri's All-America defensive end came out to the entire country Sunday night and could become the first openly gay player in America's most popular sport.

''I just want to go to the team who drafts me,'' Sam told ESPN in an interview that aired Sunday, ''because that team knows about me, knows that I'm gay, and also knows that I work hard. That's the team I want to go to.''

Nobody has ever done this before.

In interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports, Sam said publicly for the first time that he was gay. He said he came out to his teammates and coaches at Missouri in August.

Sam will participate in the NFL combine later this month in Indianapolis and is projected to be a mid-round draft pick in May.

''Hopefully it will be the same like my locker room,'' he told ESPN. ''It's a workplace. If you've ever been in a Division I or pro locker room, it's a business place. You want to act professional.''

Sam received much public support Sunday night from people throughout the world of sports.

''I can't wait to cheer for whatever lucky team that drafts (at)MikeSamFootball. Personally I hope he goes to my favorite team. The (at)Colts'' tweeted Jason Collins, the pro basketball player who said publicly last season that he is gay.

There also were words of caution.

Offensive lineman Frank Garcia, who played nine seasons (1995-2003) in the NFL with the Panthers, Rams and Cardinals, said Sam could face ''huge challenges'' in the league.

Garcia was teammates and good friends with defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo, who announced he was gay on HBO's Real Sports in 2002 - three years after he left the NFL.

Garcia said although he and Tuaolo regularly hung out as teammates in Carolina in 1999, Tuaolo never once let on that he was gay.

''I think a lot of guys in the NFL are going to say they will accept it, but there are a lot of guys who won't,'' said Garcia, now a sports radio show host with WFNZ-AM in Charlotte. ''The reality is Michael Sam is going to open himself up to a lot of criticism and a lot of challenges. Those are challenges most gay people have to go through, but when you are dealing with alpha males and some meatheads in an NFL locker room it's amplified. And there are some guys who have strong religious beliefs, too, so he's going to be judged. He's going to face some things that are going to be very difficult to overcome.''

The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last month after leading the Southeastern Conference in sacks (11.5) and tackles for loss (19). He was the SEC defensive player of the year.

There have been a few NFL players who have come out after their playing days, including Kwame Harris and Dave Kopay.

Collins, a 35-year-old backup center, came out after last season when he was a free agent and was not signed this season. MLS star and U.S. national team player Robbie Rogers also came out a year ago.

''His courage will inspire millions to live their truth,'' Rogers tweeted about Sam.

Division III Willamette kicker Conner Mertens, a redshirt freshman, said last month he was bisexual.

''We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage,'' the NFL said in statement. ''Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.''

Sam's announcement comes at a time gay rights and sports have collided at the Olympics in Sochi. Russia's anti-gay propaganda law has received much attention, and criticism, because of the games.

''By rewriting the script for countless young athletes, Michael has demonstrated the leadership that, along with his impressive skills on the field, makes him a natural fit for the NFL,'' said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization. ''With acceptance of LGBT people rising across our coasts - in our schools, churches, and workplaces - it's clear that America is ready for an openly gay football star.''

The NFL's sexual orientation, anti-discrimination and harassment policy states:

''Coaches, General Managers and others responsible for interviewing and hiring draft-eligible players and free agents must not seek information concerning or make personnel decisions based on a player's sexual orientation. This includes asking questions during an interview that suggest that the player's sexual orientation will be a factor in the decision to draft or sign him.

''Examples: Do you like women or men? How well do you do with the ladies? Do you have a girlfriend?''

Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams tweeted: ''I could care less about a man's sexual preference! i care about winning games and being respectful in the locker room!''

Williams' teammate, cornerback Drayton Florence, posted on his Twitter account: ''No comment but it can be a distraction in the locker room. At least he's open with it much respect!''

---

AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.

---

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Edwards: Friday's Tip Sheet
ASA: Big Ten Report - Week 14
Williams: ACC Report - Week 14
Edwards: Iron Bowl Preview
Marshall: Tech Trends - Week 14
SportsBoss: SBPI Rankings - Week 14
TCU's 48-10 romp leaves Texas reeling
Fournette leads LSU over A&M, 23-17
SC-Clemson brawl 10 years later
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NCAAFB Hot Streaks
12-3 L2 Saturdays, 13-3 L16
3-1 Saturday, 8-3 L11 Picks
42-23 L9 Saturdays, 61% +2,213
62%, +1,685 Overall This Season
6-2 Saturday, 31-17 L48 Picks
10-3 L13 G-Plays, +1,668 This Year
5-2 Saturday, 11-3 L14 Picks
7-3 Last 2 Saturdays
5-2 Sat., 26-13 Last 6 Saturdays
10-5 +475 L15 Picks, 11-4 G-Plays TY
4-0 Record Saturday
5-2 L3 Saturdays, 10-5 L15 Picks
6-3 L9 G-Plays, 12-6 L4 Saturdays
3-0, +325 Last 3 Guarantees
5-1 L6 Guaranteed Plays
10-3 Record L2 Saturdays
10-3 Guaranteed Plays TY
5-2 Record Saturday
NCAA FB College Football Expert Sports Picks- Stanford Cardinal at UCLA Bruins
2014 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kevin Rogers + 2213
Dave Cokin + 1685
Michael Black + 1668
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Tony Stoffo + 550
Paul Bovi + 470
Mark Franco + 400
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Dave Cokin 62 %
Kevin Rogers 60 %
The SportsBoss 60 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Jimmy Boyd + 690
Chip Chirimbes + 665
Kevin Rogers + 518
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Stephen Nover + 1157
Kyle Hunter + 1038
Tony Stoffo + 722
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Dave Cokin + 1365
Kevin Rogers + 725
Stephen Nover + 540
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Daily Fantasy NFL Perfect Lineup Contest