University of Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam, a first team All-American and likely early round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has publicly stated that he is gay. Barring any other players coming out before the season starts in the fall, this will likely make Sam the first openly gay active player ever in the National Football League.

Sam came out to his teammates last year. “I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads — like, finally, he came out,” he told the New York Times.

The 6’3” 260-pound defensive lineman then went on to a breakout season for Missouri, being named first team All-American and SEC defensive player of the year. His teammates voted him Missouri’s most valuable player.

This could negatively affect his draft stock as teams explore the potential landmines that might arise having the first openly gay player in NFL history on their roster. But Sam decided to come out because he sensed that rumors were circulating.

“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” he says. “I just want to own my truth.”

The Atlanta Falcons are loaded with draft picks this year, and are in dire need of help on the defensive line. We’re reaching out to Falcons brass for comment.

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