The National Football League has finally drafted its first openly gay player and the notable athlete will be playing for the Saint Louis Rams.
At the 249th pick Saturday, the Rams drafted defensive end Michael Sam who came out publicly about his sexuality in February.
Sam became the first openly gay athlete drafted into one of America’s major professional sports leagues amid speculation that the NFL would not rise to the occasion to recruit such a controversial player.
“For Michael, it’s a little bit of relief that it’s over, and you can finally say you’re part of the NFL family. That is a dream come true for so many football players. That’s a realization that all his hard work has paid off,” gay former NFL player Wade Davis, the executive director of the You Can Play Project, told USA TODAY Sports. “Now he can really start to focus on his new journey.”
Video of Sam receiving the call from the Rams and coach Jeff Fisher was captured as he embraced his friends, family and his partner.
“In a world of diversity we live in, I am honored to be a part of this,” Fisher told ESPN.
“I don’t want it to become an unusual distraction for his teammates but him as well,” Fisher added.
ESPN reporters spoke with the NFL Network immediately after Sam was selected and Fisher made it clear to reporters that his pick was based solely on the ability of his new end and nothing more.
“I don’t have any concern whatsoever,” Fisher said. “We drafted a good football player.”
Sam’s addition to the league is a significant one, and the league has made great strides to prepare for its first openly gay player.
According to USA Today, Wade Davis met with league officials, the Vice President Troy Davis, and the Commissioner Roger Goodell, in New York City and gave a presentation to league owners, general managers and head coaches to put together a series of presentations with teams and players as part of the league’s Respect at Work program.
Michael Sam has always maintained that he wanted to be only known as a football player and not iconized as a trailblazer because of his sexuality.
Sam joins a middle-of-the-road defensive line that includes Robert Quinn, Chris Long, William Hayes and Eugene Sims.
Robert Quinn took to Twitter to welcome his new teammate.
— Robert Quinn (@RQuinn94) May 10, 2014
[Photo Credit: Twitter]