Sam picked by Rams, becomes first openly gay player to be drafted

Michael Sam made history.

The St. Louis Rams selected the former Missouri defensive end in the seventh round of the NFL Draft Saturday, making Sam the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.

The MU graduate announced that he is gay on Feb. 9. He told his Missouri teammates of his sexuality in August 2013.

Sam earned co-Southeastern Conference Player of the Year honors for the 2013 season. He led the SEC in sacks with 11.5.

While Sam’s coming out was publicly met well, some NFL general managers said anonymously through different media outlets that they would have reservations about drafting Sam.

By all accounts, Sam’s sexuality was never an issue in the Missouri locker room.

“If you’re part of our family, part of our football program, part of our team, you know, we’re going to be respectful of the differences amongst us and embrace and support each other,” Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said on Feb. 10. “That’s what we do here at Mizzou.”

Considered undersized for an NFL defensive end, Sam attempted to make the switch to linebacker this offseason. He struggled at the position during Senior Bowl week, hurting his draft stock.

The majority of Sam’s production came in three games. Sam recorded three sacks apiece against Arkansas State, Vanderbilt and Florida.

Sam’s value skyrocketed his senior season after three pedestrian years in black and gold. He totaled just 8.5 sacks through his junior year before more than doubling that number in his final season in Columbia.

The Hitchcock, Texas, native ended his collegiate career with a strip sack of Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf. Defensive end Shane Ray scooped up the ball and returned it for a touchdown, securing a Cotton Bowl championship.

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