First Lady Michelle Obama today tweeted her praise of All-American defensive end Michael Sam’s “courage” for publicly announcing that he is gay.
You’re an inspiration to all of us, @MikeSamFootball. We couldn’t be prouder of your courage both on and off the field. -mo
— FLOTUS (@FLOTUS) February 10, 2014
“-mo” denotes that the first lady composed the tweet herself. Sam replied with his thanks:
@FLOTUS Thank you for your kind words, humbled by your support.
— Michael Sam (@MikeSamFootball) February 10, 2014
Similarly, a “-VP”-tagged personal tweet from Vice President Joe Biden offered congratulations to Sam:
— Office of VP Biden (@VP) February 10, 2014
Asked about President Obama’s reaction to the news about Sam, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at today’s daily press briefing that, while he hasn’t discussed it with the president, Obama “shares the sentiments expressed by the first lady and the vice president and so many others in marveling at his courage and congratulating him on the decisions he’s made, on the support he’s had from his team, and wishing him well in the future, including in professional football.”
Carney called Sam’s performance as a college football player “exceptional.”
Sam came out as gay Sunday in interviews with ESPN and The New York Times. As a senior defensive end at Missouri, Sam earned first-team AP All-American status after leading the Southeastern Conference with 11.5 total sacks in 2013.
Sam projects as a mid-round pick in this May’s upcoming NFL draft. Along with fellow Mizzou DE Kony Ealy, a junior who declared early for the NFL draft this year, Sam was part of the most prolific pass-rushing duo in what was widely regarded as the nation’s best college-football conference in 2013. Perhaps undersized as a traditional defensive end at the pro level–he was listed at 6-foot-2, 255 pounds on Mizzou’s college roster–Sam worked out as a linebacker at last month’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and reportedly struggled in that role.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Bryan Burwell, sports reporters in Missouri suspected that Sam was gay during his 2013 campaign. He declined to attend media days and give interviews for almost all of the season.
Michelle Obama similarly tweeted congratulations to NBA player Jason Collins after he came out in April 2013.