NFL commish welcomes Michael Sam: National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell publicly expressed support for Michael Sam on Wednesday evening, three days after the All-American defensive lineman from the University of Missouri said he was gay in an interview with ESPN.
“Good for him,” said Goodell through the Twitter page of NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.
“He’s proud of who he is and had the courage to say it. Now he wants to play football. We have a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. We will have further training and make sure that everyone understands our commitment. We truly believe in diversity and this is an opportunity to demonstrate it,” said Goodell, who has a gay brother.
The commissioner made the comments at the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition Wall Street Project in New York City, according to reports.
Michael Sam would become the league’s first openly gay player, assuming he is drafted in May.
NFL Players Association (NFLPA) president Domonique Foxworth on Monday said he thinks NFL players will accept Sam “with open arms.”
NFL draft projections see Sam as a midround pick, possibly as high as the third round. ESPN Scouts Inc. rated Sam as the 12th-best outside pass-rusher in the draft.
Last season, Sam was named the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Defensive Player of the Year, leading college football’s best conference with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss, while leading his team to the SEC Championship game. Missouri finished the year ranked #5 in the nation with a 12-2 record.
“I just want to go to the team who drafts me,” said Sam on Sunday. “Because that team knows about me, knows that I’m gay, and also knows that I work hard. That’s the team I want to go to.”