WASHINGTON — President Obama congratulated Michael Sam today, after he made history as the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL when he was picked by the St. Louis Rams, the White House said.
“The President congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation’s journey. From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are,” a White House official emailed to ABC News.
Sam, who led the Southeast Conference in sacks with 11.5 in the 2013 season and was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year came out as gay after the season, drawing national media attention to his all-but-certain path to join an NFL roster.
Rated as a mid-round prospect, Sam fell lower in the draft than many analysts initially predicted. He was chosen in the seventh round.
Last week, some NFL insiders predicted to ABC that teams would be reluctant to draft Sam because of potential media attention, given his sexual preference.
Sam may also make history for being the most tweeted-about draft pick. Just 40 minutes after being drafted, there were already about 110,000 tweets referencing Michael Sam or @MikeSamFootball, including tweets from the Rams, the NFL, and supportive teammates.
“Football is all about making plays, welcome to the Squad @MikeSamFootball Rams Nation accept you for who you are… #ShowTime,” tweeted Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
“S/O to @MikeSamFootball congratulations to the SEC Defensive player of the year, 1st team All SEC .. an All American.. It’s just football..,” running back Benny Cunningham tweeted.
And, for what was likely the first time, ESPN video featured a happy Sam kissing his boyfriend after getting the call from Rams coach Jeff Fisher.