Michael Sam, Defensive End NFL prospect and recent graduate of the University of Missouri where he played for the Mizzou Tigers, told ESPN over the weekend that he is gay. The highly-touted draft prospect has received support from big name celebrities, fellow players and media members and now New York Giants co-owners Steve Tisch and John Mara have spoken out in support for Sam.
“I would just echo what the league and Zak DeOssie, one of our captains, have said in welcoming Michael into our league and supporting him as he attempts to achieve his dream of playing in the NFL," said Mara. "Our sport, our game, is the ultimate meritocracy. You earn your way with your ability. As Patrick Burke and Wade Davis constantly remind all of us, regardless of who you are, what your background is and what your personal or sexual orientation is, if you can play, you can play. Michael’s announcement will not affect his position on our draft board.”
"As I said last night, Michael Sam is a gifted athlete and a courageous man. I hope any NFL team would not hesitate to draft Michael if he is right for their team," continued Tisch. "Our game is the ultimate team game, and we often talk about how a team is a family. Regardless of where you are from, what your religious beliefs are, what your sexual orientation is, if you are good enough to be on the team, you are part of the family. How the University of Missouri and its football program embraced and supported Michael is a tremendous blueprint for all of us, but frankly, I think the lessons of our game also provide the same positive example.”
“We’re about winning,” Kraft said. “And anyone who can come in here and help us win, I personally don’t care what their ethnic background is, their racial background, the gender preference. If they can help us win, and they’re about team first, then I’m happy to have him here. If a player were gay and came into this locker room, it would be the most supportive system. He’d gain strength by being in here. And it wouldn’t be divisive and he’d make friends for life and they could help him win. I think it’s good for America.“Maybe I’m naïve, but I really think, this is, what, 2014, and I think we’re all more receptive and accepting than we were."
The NFL released a statement of support as well, saying, "We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014." Football great Deion Sanders, Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are among those who have tweeted their support for Sam.
Michael Sam isn't the 1st gay player in the NFL although he is the 1st 2 come out.#realtalk Let's show him love like a family member. Truth— DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) February 10, 2014
There is no room for bigotry in American sports. It takes courage to change the culture.— Malcolm Smith (@MalcSmitty) February 10, 2014
You're an inspiration to all of us, @MikeSamFootball. We couldn't be prouder of your courage both on and off the field. -mo— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) February 10, 2014
Congratulations on leading the way, @MikeSamFootball. That's real sportsmanship.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 10, 2014