SEC defensive player of the year and 1st team All-American Michael Sam says he is gay. Sam, a defensive end out of Missouri, is projected to be a 3rd or 4th round draft pick. He came out to the world because he wanted to own his truth before someone else broke the story about him.

In an interview with the New York Times, Sam explains that he came out to his Missouri teammates in August, even though he was aware most of them knew. Their reaction was completely supportive, according to Sam.

If drafted, Sam will be the first openly gay player to play in the NFL. Homosexual players have played in the NFL in the past, including former running back David Kopay who played for the Saints in 1971. Kopay came out in 1975, three years after his playing career. Sam had dinner with Kopay last night, perhaps gaining advice on his announcement.

Sam grew up in Hitchcock, Texas, one of eight children. He had a rough childhood. Two of his brothers are in prison, while three of his siblings have died.

How will an NFL locker room accept Sam? Time will tell. His Missouri teammates supported him fully, according to Sam. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, in an interview with NFL.com last week, said he didn't want a gay teammate.

Former running back Jerome Bettis, appearing on ESPN's SportsCenter, said he believes that 95% of current NFL players would welcome Sam into their locker room, while 5% would be opposed.