Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the reigning defensive Player of the Year for the prestigious SEC, came out as a gay man in an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this week. The sports magazine is making sure everyone knows about it.
Sam now graces this week's cover of Sports Illustrated, a prestigious honor in the sports and cultural world. In a brief preview of the extended article, Sam is quoted as differentiating himself from other athletes who have come out after ending their playing careers:
Defensive end Michael Sam wanted the NFL team that drafts him to have no doubts about his sexuality. Now he is poised to become the league’s first openly gay player. His Missouri teammates accept him. Will the pros?
“Jason Collins is an activist; Wade Davis is an activist,” says the 24-year-old Sam. “I see myself as a football player.”
Sports Illustrated has repeatedly featured athletes coming out of the closet over recent years. Jason Collins, the NBA big man who came out last year, hit the Sports Illustrated cover, and the magazine has featured stories on Gareth Thomas, the first openly gay rugby player (2010), and Robbie Rogers, the openly gay soccer player. The magazine has also done long features on whether major sports can handle openly gay players.