Michael Sam
Sam holding aloft his souvenir (a rock from the rock 'M' at Memorial Stadium) after a win vs Texas A&M
Missouri TigersNo. 52
Defensive end Redshirt Senior
Major: Parks, Recreation & Tourism
Date of birth: (1990-01-07) January 7, 1990 (age 30)
Place of birth: Galveston, Texas
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Weight: 261 lb (118 kg; 18 st 9 lb)
Career history
High school: Hitchcock (TX)
*University of Missouri (2009–2013)
Career highlights and awards
* Consensus All-American (2013)
  • First-team All-SEC (2013)
Stats at

Michael Alan Sam, Jr. (born January 7, 1990)[1] is an American football defensive end. He attended the University of Missouri, where he played college football for the Missouri Tigers football team for four years.

Sam attended Hitchcock High School in Hitchcock, Texas, where he played for the school's football team. Recruited by a number of colleges, he accepted a scholarship with Missouri. He was a consensus All-American and the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior.

After completing his college football career, Sam publicly came out as gay. If he were to be signed by a National Football League (NFL) team, which analysts think is likely,[2] he would become the first active NFL player to have declared his homosexuality publicly.

High schoolEdit

Sam attended Hitchcock High School in Hitchcock, Texas. He began traveling with the school's varsity American football team while in the eighth grade as a water boy. He joined the team as a two-way player, playing both defensive end and offensive tackle.[3] He earned first-team All-District honors as a defensive lineman in all four years of high school, and as an offensive lineman in his junior and senior years.[4] In his senior year, Sam drew attention for his strong performance against Michael Brockers in a game against Chávez High School; Brockers, an All-American, had accepted a scholarship to Louisiana State University.[3][5]

Out of high school, Sam was considered a two-star college football recruit by[3][6] Sam received scholarship offers from Arizona State University, Colorado State University, and the University of Houston, but he wanted to attend Texas A&M University, and waited to get a scholarship offer from them.[7]

College careerEdit

Sam accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Missouri (Mizzou), after he was recruited by Craig Kuligowski, the team's defensive line coach. Kuligowski recruited other players near Hitchcock, which made him familiar with Sam.[7] Sam attended the school from 2009 to 2013. He played college football for the Missouri Tigers, competing in the Big 12 Conference. He redshirted in his first year at Missouri, and recorded 3 12 quarterback sacks, 24 tackles, including seven tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one interception and one blocked kick as a redshirt freshman.[3][7] In his sophomore year, Sam intercepted a tipped pass in a game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, which secured a victory to make Mizzou bowl eligible.[8] In 2012, Mizzou transferred to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Sam registered 3 12 sacks while starting in nine of the team's games.[9]

As a senior in 2013, Sam recorded 11 12 quarterback sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. He led the SEC in both categories, and tied Missouri's single-season record for sacks.[10] He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week in two consecutive weeks, after recording three sacks apiece in games against the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Vanderbilt Commodores.[11] After the season, Sam was named the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, with C. J. Mosley of the University of Alabama,[12] and a first-team all-SEC selection.[13] He was also named a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, Sporting News, the American Football Coaches Association, and the Football Writers Association of America.[14][15][16][17] He was also named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Hendricks Award, and the Lombardi Award.[3][14] Missouri played in the 2014 Cotton Bowl Classic, in which Sam forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, securing Missouri's victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys.[18]

During his college career, Sam accumulated 123 tackles, including 36 for loss, 21 sacks, six forced fumbles and two intercepted passes.[19] He graduated from Missouri in December 2013.[2] He participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl in January 2014. Considered too small to play as a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL), he played as an outside linebacker. Sam struggled at the new position.[20]

Professional careerEdit

2014 NFL DraftEdit

Pre-draft measureables
Ht WtArm lengthHand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP
6 ft 2 in 261 lb33 ⅜ in9 ⅜ in 4.91 s 1.75 s 25.5 in 9 ft 6 in 17 reps

Personal lifeEdit

Members of the anti-gay hate group Westboro Baptist Church protest Sam, and the University of Missouri
Student counter-protestors form a wall in support of Sam.

Sam is the seventh of eight children born to JoAnn and Michael Sam, Sr. His parents separated when he was young.[5] As a child, Sam watched one of his older brothers die from a gunshot wound. Another older brother has been missing since 1998, and his other two brothers are both imprisoned. A sister who was born before him died in infancy.[21] At one point in his childhood, Sam lived in his mother's car.[5] He was once accidentally maced by police who were arresting one of his brothers.[22]

Sam argued with his mother over playing football, as she did not agree with those pursuits. Sam often stayed with friends while in high school; the parents of a classmate gave him a bedroom in their house and had him complete household chores.[5] Sam is the first member of his family to attend college.[2][21]

In August 2013, Sam took the opportunity of a team introduce-yourself session to inform his Missouri teammates that he was gay, and found them supportive.[21] He avoided talking to the media to avoid addressing rumors of his sexuality.[7][14] He came out to his father a week before coming out publicly. The New York Times wrote that his father, a self-described "old-school ... man-and-a-woman type of guy", said "I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment."[5] His father told the Galveston Daily News that he was "terribly misquoted", though The Times maintained that he was quoted "accurately and fairly."[23]

On February 9, 2014, he announced that he was gay in an interview with Chris Connelly on ESPN's Outside the Lines, becoming one of the first publicly out college football players.[21] If he is drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft or signed by an NFL team as an undrafted free agent, he could become the first active player who was publicly out in NFL history.[2][21] Though he was projected as a third- or fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft,[24] anonymous NFL executives told Sports Illustrated that they expect Sam to fall in the draft as a result of his announcement.[25] Those statements caused National Football League Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith to respond that any team official who anonymously downgrades Sam is "gutless".[26] From jail, his brother Josh said "I'm proud of him for not becoming like me. I still love him, whatever his lifestyle is. He's still my brother and I love him."[22]

On February 15, Sam returned to Missouri with the Tigers football team to accept the 2014 Cotton Bowl championship trophy at a ceremony held at the halftime of a Missouri Tigers basketball game at Mizzou Arena. It was the first visit to his alma mater since he came out as gay. Anti-gay activist Shirley Phelps-Roper and about 15 other members of the Westboro Baptist Church, an organization widely considered a hate group, protested his appearance. Students organized a counter-protest numbering in the hundreds if not thousands,[lower-alpha 1] assembling a "human wall" in front of the protesters.[30]

See alsoEdit


  1. "Person Details for Michael Alan Ii Sam,, "Texas, Birth Index, 1903–1997" —". Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Branch, John (February 9, 2014). "N.F.L. Prospect Michael Sam Proudly Says What Teammates Knew: He’s Gay". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Palmer, Tod (November 7, 2013). "Missouri's Michael Sam rises from small Texas town to national star". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  4. "Former Hitchcock DE, NFL prospect Michael Sam announces he is gay". Texas HS Football. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Drape, Joe; Eder, Steve; Witz, Billy (February 11, 2014). "Before Coming Out, a Hard Time Coming Up: Michael Sam’s Troubled Upbringing in Texas". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  6. "Michael Sam – Yahoo Sports". Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Staples, Andy (February 9, 2014). "Michael Sam's rise from unheralded recruit to unstoppable SEC force". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  8. Williams, Don (November 19, 2011). "Missouri scores late, saves win on tipped-pass interception: The Red Raiders have lost four in a row after Deoge's last-minute interception. Tuberville said a Tech victory "just wasn't meant to be."". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  9. Aschoff, Ed; Low, Chris (December 20, 2013). "Ten SEC surprise players in 2013". Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  10. "Teammate proud that Michael Sam ‘'had the courage to come out'’". The Kansas City Star. February 9, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  11. Palmer, Tod (October 10, 2013). "Singing, joking Michael Sam sets the tone for Missouri’s defensive line". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  12. Casagrande, Michael (December 11, 2013). "Alabama's C.J. Mosley, Christion Jones win SEC player of the year awards". Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  13. Kerkhoff, Blair (December 9, 2013). "Defensive player of the year Michael Sam leads four Tigers on all-SEC team". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Latsch, Nate (December 24, 2013). "Michael Sam's career accomplishments at Mizzou won't soon be forgotten". FOX Sports. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  15. Michael Sam Named First-Team All-American by Walter Camp: He Becomes the 33rd All-American in Mizzou Football History (December 12, 2013)
  16. "Missouri's Michael Sam is Walter Camp first-team All-American". The Kansas City Star. December 12, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  17. Eulitt, David (December 13, 2013). "Mizzou's Michael Sam is two for two on All-America teams". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  18. Chatmon, Brandon (January 4, 2014). "Mizzou defends SEC with Cotton Bowl win". Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  19. "Michael Sam bio". University of Missouri Official Athletic Site. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  20. Paylor, Terez A. (January 30, 2014). "Senior Bowl losers: Transition to linebacker tough for Missouri's Michael Sam". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 Connelly, Chris (February 9, 2014). "Michael Sam says he's gay". ESPN. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Ganguli, Tania (February 14, 2014). "Michael Sam's safe havens: Football, surrogate family kept him off path of siblings who are dead or jailed". Retrieved February 15, 2014.
  23. "Michael Sam's father denies remarks". February 14, 2014. Archived from the original on February 14, 2014.
  24. Gregorian, Vahe (February 9, 2014). "Missouri football star Michael Sam announces he is gay". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  25. Mellinger, Sam (February 9, 2014). "Michael Sam goes from football star to pioneer". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  26. "DeMaurice Smith rips unnamed general managers who downgraded Michael Sam". January 1, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
  27. Morrison, David (February 15, 2014). "'Stand with Sam' human wall draws large crowd before Tennessee-Missouri basketball game". Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved February 20, 2014.
  28. Latsch, Nate (February 15, 2014). "Supporters 'Stand With Sam' to block Westboro Baptist Church protest of former Tiger". Archived from the original on February 27, 2014.
  29. Bennett, Colette (February 17, 2014). "Mizzou stands with Sam, stands down Westboro protesters with human wall". Archived from the original on February 27, 2014.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Reilly, Rick (February 18, 2014). "Showing How It's Done Mizzou students protected Michael Sam from seeing church protesters". Retrieved February 26, 2014.


External linksEdit

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