Michael Sam wishes people will see him as just a 'football player'
INDIANAPOLIS -- Defensive end Michael Sam received tons of support since he came out as an openly gay football player earlier this month. Now, he's hoping that people will see him as a tremendous athlete and a stifling defender.
"I just wish you guys will see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player," the 6-foot-2, 255-pounder said at the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday.
Sam, who wore a rainbow-colored 'Stand with Sam' pin on his lanyard, received a flurry of questions about his sexuality and handled it with confidence. Sam understands the challenge of being in a locker room where inappropriate behavior is the norm.
"I've been in locker rooms where all kinds of slurs have been said," Sam said. "I don't think anyone means it. They might be naive and uneducated but as time goes on everyone will adapt."
Sam was also asked some football questions about which scheme he feels most comfortable in and if he feels he can be effective at the next level.
"I'm a pass-rusher," he said smiling. "If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I'm going to get the quarterback."
He also said that no NFL teams have asked about his sexual orientation during interviews. Teams are prohibited from doing so and it appears all of them are following the rules.
The reaction to Sam's press conference among the media was universally positive:
Great job in your interview at the combine @MikeSamFootball— Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) February 22, 2014
Sam is very outgoing and seems very comfortable. He's not saying away from any question. Very, very impressive.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) February 22, 2014
This is my 14th #NFL Combine, this is the first time I've seen reporters standing on chairs to view a press conference--Michael Sam presser.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) February 22, 2014
Sam on whether he's an inconsistent player: "Winning is hard, buddy." And that's it. Went about as expected. He's a charismatic guy.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 22, 2014
My day is made. Michael Sam answered my question with: "Winning is hard, buddy." #Mizzou— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) February 22, 2014
If Michael Sam interviews as well with NFL teams as he did with media, he's going to be just fine.— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) February 22, 2014
Michael Sam owned his moment as well as anyone could. Tremendous.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) February 22, 2014
I'm not a big believer in the value of press conference poise as an indicator of anything, but Michael Sam did very very well.— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) February 22, 2014
Michael Sam handled himself very well. Impressive. Confident, focused, witty. Eager to make an NFL roster and prove self as a pass-rusher.— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) February 22, 2014
Timing , instincts, leadership are huge in NFL. At least at the podium dude has all three. Just nailed it. Sharp kid.— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) February 22, 2014