INDIANAPOLIS–Word spread quickly inside the media work room Saturday afternoon at the NFL Combine.
Writer’s anxiously fiddled for their pens and tablets. Photographers scurried into position to get their shot. Public relation reps tried to clear pathways as all eyes hit the podium.
Michael Sam had arrived.
Actually, Michael Sam arrived the past two seasons as a standout defensive player at the University of Missouri but it wasn’t until earlier this month Sam changed the face of the NFL moving forward.
“I just wish you guys would see me as Michael Sam the football player, not Michael Sam the gay football player,” he calmly explained to the throng of reporters from around the country.
The 2013 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year stood tall under the bright lights in his first big gathering pool media session since publicly announcing he was gay back on February 9th. He believes he’s ready for any kind of scrutiny he faces his rookie year and beyond.
“I’ve been in locker rooms where all kinds of slurs have been said,” he confidently announced during his extended open-forum press conference inside Lucas Oil Stadium. “I don’t think anyone means it…as time goes on everyone will adapt.”
The defensive end pass rush specialist said the topic of his sexual preference didn’t come up in interviews at the Combine to this point. He also stressed he’s been working out hard the past several weeks to quiet his on-the-field naysayers who believe the 6’2, 260-pounder is too small to play defensive end in a traditional four-three scheme.
“I’m a pass rusher,” Sam explained. “So if you put me in a position to get the quarterback I’m going to get the quarterback…this league is a passing league…I just want to do what I love to do and that’s play football.”
Sam’s on the field workout will take place on Sunday.