Westchester Reacts As NFL Prospect Michael Sam Reveals He's Gay

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Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam is expected to become the first opening gay player in the NFL when he is drafted in May.
Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam is expected to become the first opening gay player in the NFL when he is drafted in May. Photo Credit: University of Missouri Athletics

WESTCHESTER, N.Y. -- The sports world, including Westchester, is reacting Monday after University of Missouri football star Michael Sam, a top National Football League prospect, revealed Sunday that he is gay.


Is Michael Sam's public revelation that he is gay important for sports and society?

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Is Michael Sam's public revelation that he is gay important for sports and society?

  • Yes. It is groundbreaking in football and professional sports.

  • No. It's no one's business.

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According to nfl.com, Sam, a 24-year-old defensive end, reportedly told The New York Times and ESPN he is gay, and the 2014 NFL Draft prospect plans to become the first openly gay player in the NFL.

"I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it," Sam told The Times. "I just want to own my truth."

Varsity boys basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo,  at Saunders High School in Yonkers, who revealed in June 2013 that he was gay, received strong support from his players, co-workers and peers and sees Sam's revelation as ground-breaking in professional sports.

"Kids everywhere need to know that they are not alone and so many are in similar situations," Nicodemo said. "Michael's story shows that you can play sports, be gay and be successful."

Sam, who just completed his senior season at Missouri, was among the top pass rushers in the Southeast Conference last year with 10.5 sacks, boosting his NFL draft stock. Sam joined Alabama’s C.J. Mosley as SEC Co-Defensive Players of the Year. He is projected to be drafted in the third or fourth round of the annual NFL player draft on May 8.

The NFL released a statement in support of Sam on its nfl.com website.

“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage," said Goodell. "Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's brother's Michael, who is gay,revealed in a Time magazine article in 2012 that brother Roger, a Bronxville resident. defended him against bullies in school. He said his brother was "a hero figure for me".

Nicodemo said Sam's advance to the NFL will test thr sports world and its culture.

"I think in Michael's case, we really will get to see where we are at as a sports culture," the coach said. "He is obviously a pro, so come draft day the NFL will take center stage on the inclusion movement."


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Comments (7)


Westchester Jewish Community Services
845 N. Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603
914-761-0600 x 204

Michael Sam, an NFL candidate from the University of Missouri, came out as “an openly, proud gay man.” If drafted this April, he would be the first openly gay NFL player. While public reactions have been mixed, the NFL released a statement showing their support for Michael Sam. "We at Center Lane feel that this is huge and exciting news for the sports world and for our community. Sam’s coming out as a gay man is courageous, and we intend to follow his story. We will be sharing this news with the youth in our program as a topic for group discussion and hope to incorporate Michael Sam’s story into future workshops," said Santo Barbagiovanni, LMSW, director of WJCS Center Lane.

CENTER LANE is Westchester's only community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) adolescents. Designed to reduce the isolation that many of these young people feel, the center provides an opportunity for socialization, enhanced self-esteem and personal growth in a safe place where they can be themselves without the fear of harassment. Services include: weekly support groups, creative and educational workshops, recreational and social events, social skill building activities, advocacy and short-term individual, family and group counseling. The center also offers opportunities for young people to do community service and a monthly networking meeting for student members of local high school Gay/Straight Alliance clubs.

And if his stats suck over time, will the big revelation have been so important? It's what you DO in the GAME, straight or not.

No, it is not important to sports. Just play the game. Who cares?!!!!!!

Thank you for changing the wording. Clearly it was important to him personally and I am sure he gave it an incredible amount of thought before acting on this. Yes, my opinion, is that this is important for sports and society

I grew up with an ardent English teacher as a parent who emphasized the importance and delicate nature of word choices and about the importance of being precise and careful. That is one of the dangers of the pace of communications these days. People are acting quickly and not being careful. Thank you for clarifying.

I am highly disturbed by the wording of the poll adjacent to this article. How can anyone who chooses to be honest about who they are be 'inappropriate'? It's an incredibly poor (and revealing) word choice. We teach children to be honest from the time they toddlers so are you saying there this concept should come with some sort of index of topics defining what you can and cannot be honest about? We teach children to be confident with who they are and celebrate his/her individuality. I commend Sam for being open and can certainly understand why he would not want to step into a potentially bigger public spotlight with the daily burden of pretending, lying or fragmenting his life. You would never see a poll like this asking if it is 'appropriate' for someone to publically reveal that they are a heterosexual. Clearly this is appropriate for Sam and its Sam's life he is living. This is a great step for Sam, the NFL and for the gay/lesbian community. Sam, way to go!

Mimtay.. good point. "Appropriate" was meant to mean -- was it important for him to make the public statement or keep it private and personal.