Michael Sam | LG Patterson/AP | 14096
President Barack Obama greeted the St Louis Rams’ draft selection of Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to join an NFL team, as “an important step forward in our nation’s journey”. Sam came out in February.
His endorsement is controversial, however. Many questioned whether any NFL team would draft an openly gay player, perhaps deterred by ingrained social attitudes or unwillingness to deal with the inevitable media attention. One NFL coach, speaking anonymously to Sports Illustrated after Sam came out, said: “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet.”
On Twitter, Chris Kluwe, a former Minnesota Vikings punter who has become an outspoken critic of attitudes to homosexuality within the NFL, said: “At least one team finally showed some balls. Good job Rams. However, it’s still a very real problem that it took this long.”