Following the release of Jon Gruden’s homophobic and racist comments in emails this week, the first openly gay NFL player to be drafted, Michael Sam, spoke out about what Gruden said.
On Wednesday, Sam spoke with Augustana College (Ill.) in a seminar, and he was asked about Gruden’s emails.
“It’s unfortunate, especially that the first active gay player who’s playing is on the same team,” Sam said, via USA Today.
Gruden targeted Sam directly in one of his emails, indirectly calling Sam a “q—r” to NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell. Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams after his career at Missouri, and Gruden called out Goddell for pressuring the Rams to draft Sam.
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Jeff Fisher, the former Rams coach, responded on Tuesday to the comments Gruden said about the Rams being pressured to draft Sam. Fisher said Goddell never forced the team to draft him; they drafted Sam because of his talent.
MORE: Jeff Fisher rejects Jon Gruden claim that NFL pressured Rams to draft Michael Sam
The first active gay player in NFL history, Carl Nassib, plays on the Raiders. When Nassib came out as gay in June, Gruden and the Raiders appeared to be supportive of him. However, Sam now looks at this with skepticism.
“So it almost seems like you know how the whole team would rally around (Nassib), but again, it almost seems like it was just for show. So are you really a part of it, or are you not?” Sam said. “It’s moving in that direction (of acceptance), so if you’re not a part of it, you need to find another profession.’’
“Yes, Carl took the baton and now he’s carrying that and it’s a weight off my shoulders. I feel like I did my part and now I just have to stand on the side lines and cheer him on.” pic.twitter.com/UTsE5vRP3Q
— Michael Sam (@MichaelSam52) October 3, 2021
On Wednesday, Nassib took a personal day and did not attend practice due to all the news revolving around Gruden.
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Although Sam never played on an active NFL roster (he played on St. Louis’ and Dallas’ practice squads in 2014), he became an inspiration to closeted football players around the country. Sam admitted that there are still plenty of closeted players in the league “who are struggling…and not able to come (out).”