WESTCHESTER, N.Y. -- The sports world, including Westchester, is reacting Monday after University of Missouri football star Michael Sam, a top National Football League prospect, revealed Sunday that he is gay.
According to nfl.com, Sam, a 24-year-old defensive end, reportedly told The New York Times and ESPN he is gay, and the 2014 NFL Draft prospect plans to become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
"I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it," Sam told The Times. "I just want to own my truth."
Varsity boys basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo, at Saunders High School in Yonkers, who revealed in June 2013 that he was gay, received strong support from his players, co-workers and peers and sees Sam's revelation as ground-breaking in professional sports.
"Kids everywhere need to know that they are not alone and so many are in similar situations," Nicodemo said. "Michael's story shows that you can play sports, be gay and be successful."
Sam, who just completed his senior season at Missouri, was among the top pass rushers in the Southeast Conference last year with 10.5 sacks, boosting his NFL draft stock. Sam joined Alabama’s C.J. Mosley as SEC Co-Defensive Players of the Year. He is projected to be drafted in the third or fourth round of the annual NFL player draft on May 8.
The NFL released a statement in support of Sam on its nfl.com website.
“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage," said Goodell. "Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's brother's Michael, who is gay, revealed in a Time magazine article in 2012 that brother Roger, a Bronxville resident. defended him against bullies in school. He said his brother was "a hero figure for me".
Nicodemo said Sam's advance to the NFL will test thr sports world and its culture.
"I think in Michael's case, we really will get to see where we are at as a sports culture," the coach said. "He is obviously a pro, so come draft day the NFL will take center stage on the inclusion movement."