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UPDATE: Michael Sam selected by St. Louis Rams, becomes first openly gay player drafted

Saturday, May 10, 2014 | 8:59 p.m. CDT; updated 3:23 p.m. CDT, Sunday, May 11, 2014
Michael Sam was drafted Saturday to the St. Louis Rams.

COLUMBIA — ESPN showed Michael Sam on the telephone after the St. Louis Rams took him with the 249th pick in the NFL draft.

Sam broke down sobbing. He tucked his face toward the chest of his pink Polo shirt. He wore an MU Pride rainbow bracelet on his right wrist and his 2013 SEC East championship ring on his right ring finger.

The NFL had drafted its first openly gay player.

When he got off the phone, Sam turned to his left and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, and kissed him on the lips. Sam’s spokesman, Howard Bragman, identified Cammisano as Sam's boyfriend.

“I’m just thrilled for him,” Bragman said in a phone interview. “This has been his dream. It was a very nerve-racking day, and it had a happy ending.”

Sam and Cammisano did not respond to phone calls Saturday.

“Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis,” Sam said in a tweet Saturday.

He was the 2013 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year after recording 11.5 sacks as a senior. His selection was the latest the SEC Player of the Year has ever been drafted and the first time since 2006 that the SEC Defensive Player of the Year was not selected in the first round.

"That's a football player with ability that you just can't pass up," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said in a post-draft news conference.

The 6-foot-2, 255-pounder from Hitchcock, Texas, doesn't have ideal size for an NFL defensive lineman. Fisher said he was uncertain about which position Sam would play, calling him a "tweener."

"We're going to have the ability to package things up and take advantage of his athletic ability," Fisher said.

Sam ran a 40-yard-dash time of 4.69 seconds during Missouri's Pro Day on March 20. That day he also had 19 reps on the bench press and a vertical jump of 30 inches. Those numbers are not eye-popping.

The Rams looked past those numbers and took him with seven picks remaining in the draft.

"I'm going to give everything I've got to help the #Rams win a championship," Sam was quoted as saying in a tweet by the Rams.

Sam's first chance to take the field with the Rams is an Aug. 8 preseason game against New Orleans in St. Louis. The Rams' first regular-season game is at home Sept. 7 against Minnesota.

Sam publicly announced he was gay Feb. 9.

"Personally proud of him for coming out," Fisher said. "It was probably a tremendous load off his shoulders, and he enjoyed a sense of relief because the truth was out there and he was accepted by his teammates. He was able to flourish and be part of an outstanding defense."

Sam's stature, however, is quite a bit bigger than the average seventh-round pick. Visa released a 44-second commercial starring Sam on Thursday called "How you should judge Michael Sam."

 

The commercial is narrated by Sam, who asks to "judge me for what I did on the field.”

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel sent a tweet after Sam's selection. It said, "Congrats @MikeSamFootball for continuing #Mizzou tradition."

The Rams also selected Missouri corner back E.J. Gaines in the sixth round.

“In the end, I think he went to a great team,” Bragman said of Sam. “Staying home, that’s a beautiful thing. He’s very comfortable in St. Louis. He’s staying home. He has friends. He has a support system. In a lot of ways, it makes it a lot easier.”

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.


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