5 Reasons Why 2014 NFL Draft Prospect Michael Sam Is A Hero

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5 Reasons Why Michael Sam Is a Hero

Michael Sam Gay Football

Michael Sam, the All-American defensive lineman from the University of Missouri, is gay. In interviews with the New York Times and ESPN this weekend, Sam came out to the media for the first time, saying that he is an openly gay man. This is not only huge news for football and football culture in the United States, but it is even greater news for sports culture throughout the world.

Football players are often seen as the most manly men in the world, gearing up for battle every weekend and putting their bodies through hell. A football player couldn't possibly be gay, right? The Michael Sam story just comes to show how true the adage of “never judging a book by its cover” really is.

This was a huge step for Sam to admit that he is gay, and it took a lot of courage. For this reason, amongst others, he has cemented himself as a sports icon for the foreseeable future. Sam is currently being projected to be drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft in the third round. Coming out to the world right before the draft was no doubt a risky maneuver, and it could hurt his draft stock.

Conversely, it could also help him if teams want to take a gamble on not only his athletic ability, but also the story that he could bring to their team. Whatever happens will be left for NFL executives to decide. While we can sit and speculate until we are blue in the face, Sam is a hero to the sports culture in the United States and the gay community around the world.

Dominic Alessi is a Detroit Tigers writer for Follow him on Twitter, follow him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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5. A Role Model For Everybody

Michael Sam Openly Gay
Denny Medley- USA TODAY Sports

With the seismic announcement of his sexuality, he has thrown a wrench into any team's plans of drafting him. Sam has proven that he can be a role model for football players to become better people, as well as a symbol of hope to the thousands of men and women who struggle with coming out to their friends and family. His grace on and off the field is the embodiment of what students-athletes should be. If he can come out of the closet, so can they.

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4. Being Comfortable With Sexuality

Michael Sam Gay Football
Denny Medley- USA TODAY Sports

Not only has Sam been through battle while playing at Mizzou, he was pretty darn good. Sam's efforts on the field earned him All-American honors and the honor of being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named Mizzou's MVP. With Sam playing for such a football-crazy school and conference, it showed a lot of guts and maturity on his part at the ripe age of 24.

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3. Could Be First Openly-Gay Athlete In A Major North American Sport

First Gay Athlete Michael Sam

Yes, there have been players that came out such as Jason Collins, but he is currently a free agent and has not drawn much interest from any teams. Sam has the ability to be drafted by an NFL team and become an instant legend. Is the NFL ready for that? I’m not sure. By having Sam as a teammate, locker rooms will no longer be acceptable places to say what you want, when you want. They will have to act like professionals just like they would at any other job. This could be the largest impact of Sam's coming out.

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2. Coming Out on His Own Terms

Michael Sam Gay Football
Denny Medley- USA TODAY Sports

After admitting he was gay, Sam noted that he wanted to come out on his own terms. The time was right for him to come out, especially given the anti-gay controversy that we are currently seeing in Russia from the Sochi Winter Games. The media attention that his announcement will create will be unheard of, giving him the perfect chance to become a leader in the gay rights movement.

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1. Business As Usual

Michael Sam Gay Football
Jerry Lai- USA TODAY Sports

Sam knew that this announcement would cause a circus, but he doesn’t seem to care too much. So far, it seems that Sam is going to go on with business as usual, stating that he is really just focusing on getting ready for the combine and draft.