Now that he’s made his announcement, Michael Sam wants to be viewed differently.
Not as the man who’d be the first openly gay player in the NFL, but as an NFL player.
“I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player, not Michael Sam the gay football player,” the Missouri defensive end said Saturday.
That’s wishful thinking, and something that might come to pass months from now. He’s the center of attention at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine.
Moments before he took the podium, Missouri teammate Kony Ealy was introduced, causing many reporters and cameramen to react with groans, realizing it wasn’t the one they were waiting to hear from.
But Sam addressed his situation openly and with a smile, trying to keep the conversation on football as much as possible.
He said teams are asking me “all football questions,” mostly centering on how he’ll adapt to the NFL as a 3-4 outside linebacker since he lacks the size to play defensive end in a traditional 4-3 role.
“I’m a pass-rusher,” he said, as he said most things, with a smile. “If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I’m going to get the quarterback.”
He’s far more than that, and he knows it. But he handled Saturday easily, with a self-depricating manner that will serve him well.
“A trailblazer?” he replied to one question. “I feel like I’m Michael Sam.”