Michael Sam Drafted to St. Louis Rams
After days of speculation, Michael Sam knows what team he'll be playing for when he takes the field in August as the first openly gay man to actively play in the National Football League: the St. Louis Rams.
Sam was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL draft, as the 249th pick overall. He'll be playing defensive end for the Rams, according to USA Today.
Upon hearing the news, Sam took to Twitter to thank "the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I'm using every [ounce] of this to achieve greatness!!"
Sam, who was watching the draft at home with his friends and family, celebrated the historic moment by kissing his boyfriend and sharing cake with him, eventually smashing the cake in his partner's face, wedding-style. The scene aired on ESPN, and can be seen in the Vine below.
As it turns out, Sam won't have to move far from his alma mater, the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he led the division with 11.5 sacks last fall. After Sam came out to his teammates at the start of his senior year, he and his team, the Mizzou Tigers, went on to win the SEC East division and the Cotton Bowl.
Despite speculation that Sam's public coming out in February would keep him from being drafted — and later hesitance following a less-than-stellar performance in the NFL combine — Sam was one of the final players drafted in the two-day event, with seven players chosen following Sam.
LGBT advocacy groups were quick to applaud the historic move, as well.
"We congratulate Michael Sam and the St. Louis Rams on their terrific decision to draft him," said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement. "Today, LGBT young people can look to Sam as proof that being open and proud of who you are doesn't keep you from achieving your dreams. Gay people are our neighbors and friends. They're our United States Senators and, starting today, they're our professional football stars.”
"Without a doubt, this is a game changer," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "Today, Michael Sam has redefined what it takes to be a champion. He's tackled stereotypes and joins the ranks of athletic trailblazers like Jason Collins and Brittney Griner in showing Americans that there's no place for homophobia on the field. As support for equality continues to surge, it's clear that sports fans are ready, football is ready, and America is ready for its first openly gay NFL player."