Ditched by the NFL last year, Michael Sam now gets most of his income from his time on Dancing With the Stars. But he’s most famous for admitting, while active in the NFL draft, that he is gay. And few players are willing to do the same.
Michael Sam sat down with the Dallas Cowboys Star-Telegram to talk about how there are many athletes just like him, perhaps reticent to admit their sexual orientation for fear of being kept off the team.
“I don’t believe that I’m being discriminated [against] because I’m gay. I just want to know if I’m truly not in the NFL, it’s because of talent … Dancing with the Stars is my employer. That’s my main source of income. … I’m unemployed, and I don’t believe I’m out of the NFL because I’m gay.”
During the interview, Michael Sam implied that the NFL has many homosexual players. A couple have joined Sam out of the closet, but only after the sun set on their NFL careers, namely Dave Kopay and Roy Simmons, SB Nation added.
Sam declined to say how many players have kept their orientation secret, but many of them reached out to Michael after he was chosen as a draft pick for the St. Louis Rams last year.
“There is a lot of us. I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL. Was it a risky move? Yes … The players who have reached out to me and told me about their sexual orientation, it just means a lot. But I will never say anything about who they are, what teams they are [on]. I’m just saying there’s some famous people, and I’m not the only one.”
Michael Sam hasn’t had much of a football career. He was a defensive at the University of Missouri, and had a spot on the Cowboy’s practice squad for seven weeks, but was dropped in October last year; that was Michael’s only chance. Sam hasn’t played in a regular-season game, the Bleacher Report added.
But Michael has gotten recognition elsewhere. He won an ESPY Ashe Courage Award in 2014 and the 2015 Human Campaign’s Upstander Award. Unfortunately earlier this year, his father openly criticized Sam for his lifestyle in a piece for the New York Times.
“At that moment, the reason why I came out is I thought it wasn’t going to be a big deal. Maybe I was naïve… But I was clearly wrong. It was a huge deal.”
[Photo Courtesy Getty Images/Dilip Vishwana]