Q&A with Missouri star and NFL draft prospect Michael Sam
|Interview with Michael Sam|
|SI's Jon Wertheim interviews NFL draft prospect Michael Sam about his decision to announce that he is gay.|
On Sunday night, Michael Sam gave SI's Jon Wertheim the first national interview since announcing that he is gay. The text from that interview is listed below, and the audio is included in the podcast to the right.
SI: What's it like being Michael Sam right now?
Michael Sam: Like every day. Every day I wake up I'm Michael Sam; every day I go to sleep I'm Michael Sam. So it's the same.
SI: I think people are talking a lot about the timing of the decision. Put it in your words: Why now?
Sam: Why now? Because I want to tell the story the way I want to tell it. You know, two weeks ago at the Senior Bowl I didn't know how many people actually knew. I talked to my publicist, I talked to my agent and we came up with the decision this was the right time to do it.
SI: For the range of emotions you must be feeling now, do you have fear?
Sam: No, not at all. I'm a strong guy.
SI: I know you talked to a number of athletes, Jason Collins and Wade Davis among them. What resonated the most with some of the other people you talked to these past few days?
Sam: I had the privilege to talk to David Kopay. He was the first openly gay athlete. He had very inspiring words and great advice. He made me feel that I can do this. It was just so great that I had a chance to get to know him.
SI: When you came out to your team in August, what was that like?
Sam: My team already knew. When I came out to them, it was just like, finally, I told them. Their reaction was finally, he told us. It was just neutral.
SI: Were you prepared with the possibility of being outed at any point?
Sam: You know, when I came out to my teammates it was open odds. Anyone could tell anyone -- if I was walking down the street and someone asked me if I was gay, I would've told them I was gay. I wasn't afraid any more.
SI: With Jason Collins, he really wanted to be sure he was controlling the message and this wasn't going to be a TMZ story. Was this something that weighed on you?
Sam: No, I wanted to just hurry up and get it over with. I wanted to get it over with. You know, I didn't want anyone to tell my story or even try to trick me and ask about rumors of being gay. So I took the opportunity just to do it my way.
SI: A friend of yours was explaining, he said, look, this was a generation that was raised on Will & Grace and Modern Family. At what level do you think this is a generational story, and that people under 25 have much different views than more mature adults?
Sam: Jon, I've grown up in a great generation [that's] more accepting of people. We're living in 2014. I just see only possibility and great opportunity.
SI: I don't know if you're following this on social media, but already it's blowing up. Whoever signs this guy, I want to buy five of his jerseys. Do you see yourself as an activist?
Sam: No, Jon. I see myself as football player. I see myself as an individual who is trying to train for the NFL. Jason Collins is an activist; Wade Davis is an activist; David Kopay is an activist. I see myself as a football player.
SI: What's the last month been like since the Senior Bowl and you recognized how widespread this was? What do you anticipate for the next month?
Sam: You know, people -- the media, of course -- are going to make a big deal out of it. It is a big deal, but, you know, I'm just -- I have a job to do. My job is to try and play in the NFL. Nothing else.
SI: In this next month, how do intend to keep focused with the inevitable scrutiny that this is going to get?
Sam: I've been training at Mizzou to be mentally focused and physically focused, so it's going to be easy for me.
SI: What's been the hardest part about this?
Sam: I see no hard thing about it. I know what I got to do. I know what my focus is: It's training for the NFL. Everyone else can blow this out of proportion, but I'm not.
SI: Should this be a big deal?
Sam: It shouldn't. I mean, a straight person doesn't have to go in the media and tell them that they're straight, and I don't think a gay person should do that, neither. But that's the society we have to live in.
SI: Michael Sam, thanks for the time tonight. Good luck.
Sam: Thank you, Jon. I appreciate that.