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NFL prospect Michael Sam makes cover of Sports Illustrated for telling the world he's gay

Cover states that 'America is ready for Michael Sam' but also asks: 'Is the NFL ready for Michael Sam?'
Michael_Sam
Photo: Sports Illustrated

Michael Sam's sudden rise to fame continued today when Sports Illustrated released an image of its next cover.

It features the University of Missouri star, who came out publicly as a gay man on Sunday (9 February) and has put the conversation about gays in pro football on the front burnerr.

The cover states in a large headline that 'America is ready for Michael Sam.' But it is accompanied by a smaller headline asking the question that is one everybody's mind: 'Is the NFL ready for Michael Sam?'

The 24 year old came out ahead of the NFL draft in April. Prior to his announcement, he was considered a shoo-in to be drafted by a team.

Now, any team that chooses him will be hiring the first openly gay player in the NFL and a media superstar to boot.

The SI cover includes a quote from the confident Sam who indicates he was never hiding.

'If I was walking down the street and someone asked me if I was gay, I would have told them I was gay. I wasn't afraid.'

Sam was out to his Missouri teammates who accepted him and he went on to have a stellar senior season.

He came out in interviews with ESPN and The New York Times instead of choosing Sports Illustrated which exclusively broke the story of NBA player Jason Collins coming out.

Collins, nearing the end of his career, became a media sensation being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and getting a call from President Barack Obama.

But he was a free agent when he made his announcement and for the first time in his 12 year career, no NBA team signed him to play this season.

Despite all of the attention, Sam tells the magazine he does not see himself as an LGBTI activist.

'Jason Collins is an activist; (retired NFL player) Wade Davis is an activist,' Sam says. 'I see myself as a football player.'

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I have to give this guy a lot of credit. He is really a pioneer in American Football when it comes to people coming out. We have too many closeted professional athletes who live in fear. I hope his coming out inspires others to do the same. We have a page for speculation on sports players on our site www.straight-or-gay.com

One nice thing here is that we can now add Michael Sam as a person who is OUT!

I really give this guy props for doing this - very brave.