Michael Sam will wear No. 46 with the Dallas Cowboys. That number happens to be the year the Rams signed the NFL's first black players, Kenny Washington and Woody Strode. It's also the year Jackie Robinson and John Wright broke Major League Baseball's color barrier when they reported to the Brooklyn Dodgers' farm team, the Montreal Royals. Robinson took the field for the Dodgers the following year, in 1947.
Sam wore No. 52 at Missouri and adorned No. 96 with the St. Louis Rams. If he makes the active roster he will have to wear 60-79 or 90-99, per League rules. Still, the 46 is a great start.
While some have called Michael Sam the "gay Jackie Robinson," I have always avoided such comparisons. LGBT rights in 2014 are decades ahead of where minority rights were in the 1940s when these men were breaking ground. Michael Sam isn't the "gay Jackie Robinson" - He's Michael Sam.
With that said, intentional or not, I appreciate the subtle connection between Sam and these two brave men.
Brittney Griner wears No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson; Jason Collins wore No. 98 in honor of Matthew Shepard.