Former Missouri Tigers defensive end Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted after being taken in the NFL Draft on Saturday. Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round.
Michael Sam came out back in February, and since then, many people have wondered how that would affect his draft stock. The co-defensive player of the year in the SEC for this past season was taken with the 249th pick in the seventh round; there were 256 players taken in the draft in all. Despite not being taken earlier and getting a bigger payday, Sam is very excited that he was drafted.
“I am overwhelmed, I’m excited, and I’m proud to be a Ram,” Sam said. “I knew I was going to get picked somewhere. Every team that passed on me, I was thinking about how I was going to sack their quarterback.”
— St. Louis Rams (@STLouisRams) May 10, 2014
Jeff Fisher, head coach for the Rams, said that he was surprised Sam was still available so late in the draft, which is a sentiment shared by Sam himself and many others. Interestingly enough, the Rams selected four players in rounds six and seven before taking Sam. Even though Fisher's surprise doesn't seem warranted (the Rams made nine picks total before taking Sam), the Rams coach does say he is honored to be part of the historical moment.
“In a world of diversity we live in now, it’s an honor to be a part of this,” Fisher said.
Michael Sam's reaction to being drafted was captured by ESPN. You can see the reaction in the video below, which included tears and kissing his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano.
While Sam being taken in the NFL Draft was no doubt seen as a victorious moment for the gay rights movement, the on-air kiss led to quite a few people expressing their disdain on Twitter.
Miami Dolphins player Don Jones called the kissing clip "horrible" in a tweet that was later deleted. Dennis Hickey, the general manager for the Dolphins, says he plans to talk to Jones about his comment. "I was disappointed in those comments," Hickey said. "That's not what we stand for as an organization."
Even though some people are less than thrilled with ESPN airing Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend, others aren't focusing on the kiss, but what Sam's draft means for other homosexuals. The White House released a statement last night where President Barack Obama congratulated Sam on being selected:
The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward in our Nation’s journey. 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.
Check out some other congratulatory comments Sam received after being drafted below.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 11, 2014
— Robert Quinn (@RQuinn94) May 10, 2014
Image via Twitter