Senior Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam announced he is gay in reports published by ESPN and The New York Times on Sunday night.
“I just want to own my truth,” Sam told the Times.
Later, Sam took to Twitter in an account he tweeted from for the first time on Sunday:
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel expressed encouragement for Sam in a statement Sunday night.
“We’re really happy for Michael that he’s made the decision to announce this, and we’re proud of him and how he represents Mizzou,” Pinkel’s statement read in part. “Michael is a great example of just how important it is to be respectful of others. He’s taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn’t matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we’re all on the same team, and we all support each other. If Michael doesn’t have the support of his teammates like he did this past year, I don’t think there’s any way he has the type of season he put together.”
Athletic Director Mike Alden also voiced support in a statement.
“This is a young man who earned his degree from MU, was a unanimous All-American on the football field, and now he’s being a leader in his personal life,” Alden said in part. “He continues to display great character, courage and compassion. We are proud of him on every level.”
If drafted, Sam will become the first openly gay athlete in the NFL. Sam said he opened up to his Missouri teammates in August 2013.
ESPN football analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said Sunday night that Sam is slated to get drafted in the fourth round. Kiper said his announcement will not affect Sam’s draft status.
Sam, a native of Hitchcock, Texas, was named a first-team consensus All-American this season and was the Southeastern Conference co-defensive player of the year.