Agent’s Support For Openly Gay NFL Prospect: ‘I Think It’s Big For Sports In General’
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The agent for All-American football player Michael Sam, who may become the first openly gay NFL player in history after publicly coming out Sunday, is calling the announcement a game changer.
Sam, who has widely been considered to be a top draft pick in the 2014 NFL draft, sparked a high volume of social media attention Sunday evening after formally announcing his sexual orientation, stating, “I am an openly, proud gay man”.
While a number of posts on twitter had a negative reaction, the overwhelming majority of reactions on the social media site displayed cheerful support.
Sam’s agent, Joe Barkett, says that he is nothing but completely supportive of his client.
“Cameron and I are very supportive of Mike and his decision,” Barkett said. “We’re behind him 110 percent.”
Sam, who initially signed with another agent, was said to be concerned that the Empire Athletes agency did not know that he was gay.
“(Sam asked), ‘I want to know how you feel about that’, (and) I said, ‘Mike, I read some rumors online, but I didn’t bring it up when I met you because, to us, it’s a non-issue, and we’re going to support you whether you’re gay or not gay. I’m recruiting you as a football player, and that’s it.”
Sam says his announcement Sunday on ESPN was originally going to be made sometime in the future, but that he decided to go ahead and make the announcement now, so that it would be on his terms.
“I think this is big for the NFL,” Barkett said. “I think it’s big for sports in general, and I hope it makes more athletes comfortable in their own skin to come out and tell their story.”
While Sam says he will not do any further interviews until the NFL scouting combine, he did use his Twitter to thank a number of supporters, including First Lady, Michelle Obama, who called him an “inspiration to all of us”, and emphasizing his courage.