PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - "I'm a gay man, and I'm happy to be one," University of Missouri football player Michael Sam said.
A life-changing statement for anyone, but, when a football player about to possibly go pro says it, it could be a career-changing statement. We spoke with College of the Desert's head football coach, Dean Dowty.
"I wasn't too surprised. I know in the media lately they've been talking about how someone from the NFL would be coming out. Football players are just like the general public. I think it would be naive to think there weren't gay people playing footbalL," Dowty said.
Defensive end Michael Sam announced he is gay, telling ESPN's "Outside the Lines" it's now time to tell the world. Sam's projected to get chosen as high as the third round in May's draft. Never before has an openly gay man played in the NFL, and some analysts wonder if this admission will hurt his draft chances in a league known for its macho and sometimes homophobic culture.
"I think there are a lot of NFL teams who want someone as talented as Michael Sam playing for them," Lisa Middleton from the LGBT Center of the Desert said.
The impact of Sam's announcement continues, some calling it LGBT community-changing.
"I was thrilled to see an out gay man who is an active football player come out. We've been waiting for this for a very long timE," Middleton said.
For the gay community, an announcement that will perhaps help others come out, too.
It signifies that gay and lesbians are active in every occupation everywhere in this country and there should be no bars other than your talent and commitment in doing a job."
When you look at the stats, they speak or themselves:
-A 24-year-old All-American college football star.
-named SEC co-defensive player of the year
-helped carry his tigers to the SEC Championship Game.
Supporters say that's all that should matter come draft day.
"Hopefully players will see that they don't judge me
because I'm gay. They see, hey, this person works hard. Can he win us games? Can he win us a championship? I can," Sam said.