Michael Sam impressive in 12-minute session with media at combine
|02.22.14 at 5:16 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Missouri defensive end Michael Sam had a 12-minute press conference at the combine Saturday afternoon, where he was poised, confident and very impressive in the face of a media throng.
Sam, who is attempting to become the first openly gay player in the NFL, introduced himself with a smile, saying, “Good afternoon. My name is Michael Sam. I play football for the University of Missouri.” He then talked about the reception he’s gotten in the wake of his announcement, the support he’s received, what it might be like hearing homophobic slurs in the locker room, and how the pre-draft process had gone to this point.
On the Dolphins’ bullying scandal: If the Miami Dolphins drafted me I would be excited to be a part of that organization. But I’m not afraid of going into that environment. I know how to handle myself. I know how to communicate with my teammates. I know how to communicate with the coaches and other staff I need to communicate with.
On wearing a “Stand With Sam” pride button: Stand With Sam? I hope all you guys Stand With Sam, by the way. Please do (laughs). I went to the basketball game against Tennessee. A very kind lady gave it to me and I gave her a hug and I got a lot of support out there.
On the “Stand With Sam” student support and ovation at that game: It’s a great — I love my fans, I love Mizzou. One of the best schools in the nation and after what they did this past weekend it was just amazing. I wanted to cry … but I’m a man. So I just want to thank everyone who supported me, especially Mizzou. The students, my coaches, the whole organization and every Missouri fan. M-I-Z-Z-O-U: I’m a Tiger forever.
On homophobic slurs in football locker rooms: I’ve been in locker rooms where all kinds of slurs have been said and I don’t think anyone means it. I think a little naive and uneducated but as time goes on everyone will adapt.
On him being gay not being a story and him being Michael Sam the football player: Well, heck yeah, I wish you guys would just say, ‘Michael Sam, how’s football going? How’s training going?’ I would love for you to ask me that question. But it is what it is. And I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.
On hearing about his announcement from his teammates: I’m not going to tell you who said it. But one of my friends at the Senior Bowl said, ‘Michael Sam, I didn’t know you were gay.’ I was like, ‘I didn’t know either. Apparently the media is just blowing it out of proportion.’ But there you go.
On the overall reception: Great. I mean, the positive outweighs the negative. I’m kind of surprised, actually. But there’s a lot of supporters, a lot of people want this. There’s just a lot of support out there.
On what he went through his family preparing him for this: It made me stronger. It made who I am today. I wouldn’t be talking to you people if it wasn’t.
Sam also talked about his progression as a prospect.
On playing 4-3 in the NFL: I want to play for whoever picks me up as a defensive end or outside linebacker to rush that passer, that would be best.
What do you think about this tweener label? Think it’s legit? Are you 4-3, can you play OLB? I’m a pass rusher. If you put me in a situation to get the quarterback, I’m going to get the quarterback. Whoever coaches or GMs, this league is a passing league, I’d like to believe in myself as a good pass rusher.
Are the questions valid? I can drop back in coverage as well. My specialty is rushing the passer.
On players you model yourself after: There’s a lot of great athletes, especially pass rushers out there. I want to try to make a name for myself. I admire Michael Strahan, he’s an awesome pass rusher, and many more like him. I’d like to make a name for myself.
What do you want NFL people to know about Michael Sam? That Michael Sam’s work ethic is just like or better than the guys here.
On questions about occasionally inconsistent play as far as getting to the quarterback: Winning is hard, buddy. (laughs) Winning is hard. There’s going to be games when I might not get a sack. Throughout the games I did have some inconsistency there, but for the most part we as a defensive line did put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks, made them uncomfortable in the pocket to have to go and run away or throw the ball out of bounds.