We use cookies to track usage and preferences. See Cookie Policy
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
CA
Pocketmags Digital Magazines
   You are currently viewing the Canada version of the site.
Would you like to switch to your local site?
Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 269 > Cover Star: Michael Sam

Cover Star: Michael Sam

Texas-born Michael Sam made history in 2014 when he became the first out American footballer to be drafted by the NFL. Although things have not been plain sailing since, editor Matthew Todd discovers that the 26-year-old man is fighting for another touchdown and would be prepared to do it all again

It’s hard to completely understand the intensity with which the United States loves American Football. Soccer in the UK, of course, is hugely popular but in the US, football runs through the DNA of mainstream American family culture like nothing else. Every year for the Super Bowl, families crowd round, throw parties, grown men weep as the nation’s best singers sing the national anthem and at half time, the likes of Madonna, Beyoncé and Michael Jackson play second fiddle to the sport. Everything stops. It is as if American Football is the beating heart of modern-day America.

MICHAEL WEARS TOP AND JEANS BOTH BY DIESEL
Photography: Leigh Keily / Fashion: Joseph Kocharian

On 9 February 2014 the-then 24-yearold defensive end, Michael Sam, from the University of Missouri’s much-respected college team, the Missouri Tigers, gave interviews to entertainment and sports channel ESPN and The New York Times, announcing that he was a “proud gay man”. Within moments it became headline news across North American and rippled out across the world, that this man could become the National Football League’s first openly gay player.

To understand why Michael’s coming out was so significant, you have to understand a little more about the way players are chosen for the sport’s professional set-up, the NFL. Young players rise through the teams at the major universities, and every April, a small number, get put forward for possible selection to play for the league.

MICHAEL WEARS JACKET BY RIVER ISLAND, POLO SHIRT BY ARMANI COLLEZIONI AT HARVEY NICHOLS, JEANS BY 7 FOR ALL MANKIND, SHOES BY ASOS WHITE SOCKS BY NIKE

During the several-days-long, nail-biting process each of the 32 NFL teams chose players from the potential college draftees. Each club has one choice per round and there are seven rounds. There are, of course, more players than places and only the best are drafted. It is a potentially life changing and defining moment, like being picked by a Premier League outfit here, or winning the X Factor. Fame and fortune can follow.

The draft is an intense public ritual, a trial by fire, where potential draftees sit and agonizingly wait through round after round to see if they will be selected. The longer it goes on, the less chance they have.

Michael Sam is that rarest of sportsperson who came out, not at the end of his career but essentially before it — as he ended his university time and was preparing for the draft. In that respect, it was a risky thing to do. He should have been in a solid position. A standout at college, he was expected to be drafted in the second or third round. Before coming out, Michael had been voted the state’s most valuable player by his teammates, and the Associated Press made him their Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year. He had told his team that he was gay the year before, in 2013. He said in his coming out interview that they had reacted with a warm “it’s about time” attitude. Indeed, some of his straight teammates had accompanied him to gay bars and even to the St Louis Gay Pride Parade. “They already knew,” he said. “Just to see their reaction was awesome. They supported me from day one. I couldn’t have had better teammates.”

READ MORE
Purchase options below
Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Attitude - 269
If you own the issue, Login to read the full article now.
Single Issue - 269
$6.99
Or 699 points
Annual Digital Subscription
Only $ 2.77 per issue
SAVE
60%
$35.99
Or 3599 points
Monthly Digital Subscription
Only $ 3.68 per issue
SAVE
43%
$3.99
Or 399 points

View Issues

About Attitude

Out gay NFL player Michael Sam leads our All American issue. Inside, there’s an exclusive extract from the book everyone’s talking about What Belongs To You, gay singer Parson James on growing up in the homophobic and racist Deep South, and an interview with the guys behind the excellent new Robert Mapplethorpe documentary. Elsewhere, there’s our Gay Guide to America, we look at Hollywood’s history of closeted movie stars, and celebrating the icons that made queer USA great. Plus, FREE with this issue our guide to best of Thailand.
Ways to Pay Pocketmags Payment Types
At Pocketmags you get Secure Billing Great Offers HTML Reader Gifting options Loyalty Points