There may never be a final day of the NFL Draft as memorable or historical as the 2014 edition. Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, became the first openly gay football player to be drafted by an NFL team when the St. Louis Rams used one of their final two picks to draft him. It was a proud moment for humanity and equality, and it was not a moment that went unnoticed by President Barack Obama.
“The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward in our Nation’s journey,” a White House statement said, according to USA Today. “From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are,”
There is no telling just what comes next for Sam with the Rams. St. Louis has a loaded defensive line. In addition to drafting Sam, the Rams also drafted Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the defensive end position looks to be locked down with Chris Long and Robert Quinn on each side. Seventh-round draft picks typically have a difficult time making an NFL roster right away anyway, especially when playing a position that looks to be pretty stable heading into training camp, but the situation just feels right for Sam and the Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher seems committed to seeing this through as far as he can take it.
As for the college game, Sam’s monumental steps will hopefully help others facing a similar position that it is possible to be openly gay without the fear of one day being shut out by the NFL. The story is still being written of course, but Sam’s tale at Missouri is one worth learning from.