The Westboro Baptist Church didn’t get far when they tried to protest openly gay football player Michael Sam, running into a human wall of Missouri students supporting their school’s star player.
This week Sam came out as gay in a national interview, telling the world what he already told his Missouri teammates in August. Sam will likely become the first openly gay NFL player later this year, as the SEC defensive player of the year is projected as a mid-round NFL draft pick.
Sam said he felt the timing was right last year to come out to his teammates, and got the opportunity at a retreat for a small group of players
“Coaches just wanted to know a little about ourselves, our majors, where we’re from, and something that no one knows about you,” Sam said. “And I used that opportunity just to tell them that I was gay. And their reaction was like, ‘Michael Sam finally told us.’ “
He added that when he went to the Senior Bowl this year many other players already knew he was gay, leading him to come out on his own terms.
While he has found widespread support among NFL players and from his own school, Michael Sam was still the target of the Westboro Baptist Church. The organization, famous for its rabidly anti-gay protests, showed up to the Missouri campus with the intention of targeting Sam. They brought signs that called him a f** and denounced the school, but the wall of students kept the protest from being seen.
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church are in Columbia, MO today to denounce Michael Sam. pic.twitter.com/RmTM1lIFZx
— RBC (@_TAhmad) February 15, 2014
— SB Nation (@sbnation) February 15, 2014
The Westboro Baptist Church isn’t the only one speaking out against Michael Sam. Last week a wrestler from Kent State tweeted anti-gay slurs at the Missouri player, but was quickly suspended from his team for doing so.