Michael Sam, who last May became the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, said on Thursday that he is not alone as a gay player in the NFL, according to The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I am not the only gay person in the NFL,” Sam said at a Q&A session in Dallas.
Sam indicated that multiple players reached out to him to inform him that they are also gay, but do not yet have the courage to publicly come out. “The players who have reached out to me and told me about their sexual orientation, it just means a lot,” Sam said. “But I will never say anything about who they are, what teams they are [on]. I’m just saying there’s some famous people, and I’m not the only one.”
It really should come as no surprise that Sam is not the NFL’s only gay player. Recent studies estimate that approximately five percent of the American male population is gay, so the likelihood of there only being one gay person among the 1,696 players on active NFL rosters (32 teams, 53 players per team) and many more on practice squads is pretty low.
For his part, Sam is attempting to find his way back onto a roster after spending nearly half of last season with the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad. Despite some evidence to the contrary, Sam has consistently maintained that he is not being discriminated against because he is gay. “I don’t believe that I’m being discriminated [against] because I’m gay,” he said again on Thursday.
Sam recently attended the NFL’s veteran combine, where he came away confident he’d eventually find a roster spot despite what was generally considered a subpar performance. He indicated that he’d be open to playing in the CFL in so teams could see him playing actual football on tape and have something more than workouts off which to judge his potential contributions.