Michael Sam said he hasn’t been questioned by NFL teams about his sexual orientation, in his first public appearance since announcing that he is gay.
Sam wore a “Stand With Sam” pin as he spoke Saturday, reports USA Today, and jocularly answered questions ahead of the NFL combine, when he aims to become the football league’s first openly gay player. Sam was the Southeastern Conference’s defensive player of 2013, and he wants people to focus on his record.
“Oh, heck yeah, I wish you guys were just saying, ‘Hey, Michael Sam, how’s football going? How’s training going?’ I would love if you’d ask me that question,” the former Missouri star told reporters Saturday. “But it is what it is. I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.”
Sam added he’s comfortable in the locker room and feels confident in dealing with potential verbal abuse from other players. He’s received support from NFL coaches have publicly praised his football ability.
“I applaud what he did,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said Saturday of Sam’s coming out on Feb. 9. “In the NFL, it’s a results business. Can Michael Sam help the Cleveland Browns win? If he can, then there’s a good chance he’ll be a part of our football team.”