Rumors of Sam’s sexual orientation began to leak at Senior Bowl, agent says

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam’s decision to announce that he was gay on Sunday night was planned to come after the 2014 NFL Draft, according to his agent.

As rumors began to swirl at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this month, Sam and the player’s representatives decided it would be beneficial to get ahead of the story.

"I think the timing of Mike’s announcement was really based off of the reactions that we’ve received the last few weeks from not only front-office personnel, but journalists, as well. When we were in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, Michael was being approached by people left and right by people trying to break his story, and it was something Mike wanted to do after the draft originally," Joe Barkett told NFL Network on Monday.

"Then we kind of regrouped and discussed if Mike would still be able to do it on his terms at that point in time. And Mike and the rest of us felt that now this time was a little more appropriate where he could take control of the situation instead of being forced to tell his story after somebody else had broken it."

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Barkett noted that several NFL representatives became aware of Sam’s sexual orientation and approached the agent.

“After what happened down in Alabama, we spoke to several scouts and personnel for teams, and they all stated to us that they had an idea, but didn’t know for sure," Barkett said. "And that they didn’t think it would affect his draft stock very much."

Several draft prognosticators have Sam pegged as a third-round or later pick. After dominating SEC competition including racking up 12 sacks and 19 tackles for loss, Sam was named co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award. Sam’s agent believes that because the defensive end was honest and forthcoming, the announcement could in fact boost his draft status.

"I personally do not (believe his status will be damaged), no,” Barkett said. “I think that it could be seen as positive with teams that he came out and was open about his sexuality and forward and honest with everyone, instead of coming out after the draft and potentially having a team claim that he was dishonest with his dealings.”