"I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out," Mr. Sam said Sunday in an interview with The New York Times, the first time he spoke publicly about his sexual orientation.
This past season, Sam completed a stellar season for Missouri Tigers, which finished 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl. He was named a first-team all-American and was the defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference. Teammates voted him Missouri's most valuable player.
"We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage," the NFL said in a statement. "Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."