Michael Sam was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the NFL Draft on Saturday, becoming the first openly gay player drafted by a pro football team.
Sam played at Missouri and came out as gay in media interviews earlier this year. His team and coaches knew his secret and kept it for his final college season.
He went on to have the best year of his career: He was the SEC defensive player of the year. He was taken with the 249th overall pick out of 256. He’ll start his professional career not far from the place where he played college ball.
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam was considered a mid-to-late round pick, far from a sure thing to be drafted. He played defensive end in college, but he’s short for that position in the NFL and slower than most outside linebackers, the position he’ll need to transition to at the professional level.
The impact of his selection goes beyond football. At a time when gay marriage is gaining acceptance, Sam’s entry into the NFL is a huge step toward the integration of gay men into pro team sports.
Richardson to Bills
Cyril Richardson filled exactly what the Buffalo Bills were looking for. The Bills made the North Crowley and Baylor offensive lineman a fifth-round pick, No. 153 overall.
“We’re going to stick with our theme of big offensive lineman,” Bills director of player personnel Jim Monos said. “He’s a big mauler type guard who can gain movement. We just love his power and his strength. This guy has played against some of the top competition and played in the Senior Bowl. We followed him, and he’s just another big guard for us.”
Richardson, who weighed 343 pounds at the Senior Bowl and 329 at the NFL Scouting Combine, was excited to be headed to Buffalo.
“I’m glad to be a part of this,” he said. “It’s a great institution. It’s a great fit.”
Richardson was the first of six Baylor players to be drafted, the most of any Big 12 or Texas school. Running back Lache Seastrunk was a sixth-round pick of the Redskins, cornerback Demetri Goodson was a sixth-round pick of the Packers, receiver Tevin Reese was a seventh-round pick of the Chargers and safety Ahmad Dixon was a seventh-round pick of the Cowboys.
Longhorns shut out
For the first time since 1937, the University of Texas did not have a player selected. It had been the nation’s longest streak. Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat signed a free-agent deal with the Seahawks, defensive lineman Chris Whaley signed as a free agent with the Cowboys, and guard Donald Hawkins signed with the Eagles.
Jeffcoat and receiver Mike Davis had been viewed as the Longhorns’ potential draft picks. Former Longhorn Garrett Gilbert, who finished his career at SMU, was a sixth-round pick of the Rams.
Kansas was the only other Big 12 school without a player drafted.
Aggies RB to Cowboys
Texas A&M running back Ben Malena signed a free-agent deal with the Cowboys.
Malena, 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, rushed for 1,618 yards and 22 touchdowns in three seasons with the Aggies.