Michael Sam has been drafted by the St. Louis Rams with the 249th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He is the first openly gay athlete selected in the NFL Draft and becomes the first openly gay active player in NFL history.
Analysts had largely predicted he would be drafted on the third day of the draft, with most saying he would be selected in the fifth round. When he came out in February, most analysts had him being selected in the third to fifth round. Going in the seventh round is not a stretch from the earlier predictions. Sam's subpar performance at the NFL Combine likely hurt his draft stock a bit.
Interestingly, I spoke to Jeff Fisher at the NFL Annual Meeting and Fisher was very positive about having coached gay former NFL player Wade Davis and the presentation Davis made to the NFL.
Sam came out publicly in February to overwhelming support. He had been out as gay to his team at Missouri but had not made a public announcement until talk to Outsports, ESPN and the New York Times.
It will be fascinating in the coming days to watch the reaction to the drafting of Sam. Some will point to his sexual orientation as the reason he wasn't drafted earlier. It is truly impossible to know why someone is drafted when they are, unless you're able to speak with every general manager who passed him over and those who strongly considered him.
Ultimately, Sam was selected in the NFL Draft, and that's what matters. He beat out thousands of other prospects for his ability to help a team. His character, his leadership, his onfield performance and his Combine performance were all weighed and the Rams made their selection when they thought they had to. His ability to sell jerseys and contribute to a national conversation were also likely taken into consideration, even though the team's coaches, owner and front office will likely dismiss that assertion.
If anything, I think he also slipped a bit because of dynamic I talked about weeks ago. Teams understand they are making a 53-man roster decision today. They do not want to be the team that cut the NFL's first openly gay player. That added "risk" can easily be a reason some teams shied away.
Either way, openly gay Michael Sam is an active player in the NFL. History has been made.