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James Franklin, teammates weigh in on Michael Sam

Monday, February 10, 2014 | 8:11 p.m. CST; updated 9:05 p.m. CST, Monday, February 10, 2014
Missouri quarterback James Franklin prepares to throw the ball during the first half of the Missouri vs. Kentucky game Nov. 9 in Lexington, Ky. Franklin's former teammate Michael Sam announced that he is gay. Franklin, whose father is an evangelical minister, said after the announcement Sam joked around with the players and the players joked around with him. The announcement didn't change the way he interacted with teammates.

COLUMBIA – James Franklin does not swear or drink alcohol.

That's how the former Missouri quarterback was raised.

"I grew up to say, 'yes, ma'am' and 'yes, sir,'" Franklin said. "You know the saying, 'hate the sin, not the sinner.' I was raised a certain way — like I don't to drink and swear."

"But I would not look down on anyone for what they choose to do in their personal life," Franklin, whose father is an evangelical minister, continued. "I love Michael (Sam) and will always be there for him."

Franklin said his phone went abuzz when his former college teammate came out on Sunday. Franklin is in Florida training for the NFL draft, but he took time to talk about Sam and the locker room culture.

He acknowledged that a college football locker room is a melting pot — a large group of people coming from vastly different backgrounds. But there was never a crack that allowed negativity to spew out: Sam's "secret" stayed within the program.

Now, under Sam's volition, it's out. Sam could be the first openly gay player in the NFL, which adds another set of potential difficulties. Will his sexuality matter?

"It shouldn't matter," former Missouri offensive lineman Justin Britt said. "Michael's a great player, but he's a better person. Once (his team) gets to know him, they'll know that he's an awesome person."

The circumstances are different for Sam's entry to the NFL, where everybody already knows he's gay, but nobody has seen him produce on the field for their team. At Missouri, though, Sam was already a star before he told his teammates about his sexuality.

"Ultimately, him being gay was not going to affect his performance on the field or our locker room," Marvin Foster, Sam's teammate on the defensive line, said. "The team didn't have a choice but to accept it."

Franklin said after the announcement, Sam joked around with the players and the players joked around with him. The announcement didn't change the way he interacted with teammates.

"He told us and moved on," Franklin said. "He isn't less of a person than anyone else on the team. It's only right to be accepting."


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