UPDATE: Outsports has obtained an audio recording of last week’s Albuquerque speaking engagement, in which former pro football defensive end Michael Sam is heard saying he did previously have a moment where he regretted coming out. On Monday Sam tweeted a follow-up to his comments, declaring that currently “I do not regret coming out.”
On the recording of his speaking engagement, Sam said that moment of regret was five years ago, while he was in San Diego during the seventh round of the NFL Draft. He said it looked like he might not get drafted by any team. That feeling passed quickly, he said, after being embraced by his then-boyfriend Vito Cammisano, and subsequently upon learning he had in fact been drafted by the Rams.
Here’s a partial transcript of what Sam said to students at the University of New Mexico:
“I started getting emotional. I started crying. I went upstairs. I was looking at the ocean and I was hearing the seals talk to each other. And, for like, the briefest of moments I had doubt. I had regret, actually. I said, “Did I do the right thing? Should I have kept quiet?* And I didn’t even hear him come in. I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked around and it was Vito. And he was crying, too. And he gave me the most powerful hug. And like, it just made me feel so good, I don’t care what happens in this draft. I love this guy. Pretty much, excuse my French, but ’Fuck ‘em all.’ (LAUGHTER) Fuck ’em all!”
The campus appearance by Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player ever drafted, came almost exactly five years to the day he publicly came out as gay, reported The Albquerque Journal.
In 2014, Sam was the SEC co-defensive player of the year and a star defensive end for the University of Missouri. The Tigers defensive end came out to his teammates in 2013, before his senior season. They protected him and supported him, he told UNM students attending his talk in the UNM Student Union Ballroom Tuesday, except for one time.
Sam said there were actually two instances in which he felt betrayed: the first was when a Mizzou teammate called him what the Journal described as a derogatory name, during practice.
Then, after getting drafted by the Rams in May 2014, a teammate reportedly called Sam a negative name. He told his audience he stood up for himself.
But even though Sam led the Rams in sacks during that preseason and was later a practice-squad player for the Dallas Cowboys, he never played in a single regular-season game in the NFL. That, Sam said, made him angry and led to depression.
Calling it mental illness, Sam said he had to learn to forgive, starting with himself. He forgave his father who he said abandoned the family, and his brothers, who he said abused him. But Sam struggled to forgive the NFL.
“The NFL gave me a raw deal,” said Sam, according to The Albuquerque Journal. “It was tough to forgive them. I love football. Football gave me an education and gave me the opportunity I so desperately needed at the time. I really am grateful for the sport.”
A freshman was among the students who asked questions of Sam, and spoke of her own feelings of shame, embarrassment and regret as an out lesbian, the Journal reported. Sam stepped off the stage to give Nadia Mata a hug.
When asked who is the better NFL coach, Jeff Fisher, formerly of the Rams, or Jason Garrett of the Cowboys, Sam said he preferred Fisher for how he treated Sam, speaking to him directly and making an effort to get to know him. Sam complained that Garrett only spoke to him twice: on his first day with the Cowboys and the day Garrett told him he’d been cut.
“I have no respect for him whatsoever,” Sam said of Garrett. “I was at Dallas just to be at Dallas.”
Sam told students he plans to write his autobiography.