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UPDATE: Oprah, Michael Sam agree to documentary deal over lunch

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 | 8:08 p.m. CDT; updated 9:39 a.m. CDT, Thursday, May 15, 2014

Update: Added a photo of Michael Sam with Oprah Winfrey at their lunch, which was tweeted by Sam's boyfriend Vito Cammisano.

COLUMBIA — Thousands of people have sat on Oprah Winfrey’s couch in her studio, but Michael Sam got to eat lunch in her home.

That meal with Winfrey convinced the former Missouri football player that The Oprah Winfrey Network is the right place to document his preparation for the NFL, according to Sam's spokesman Howard Bragman. 

OWN announced Wednesday it is producing a multi-part documentary about Sam.

"Michael felt safe and comfortable, and knowing the network's so much about empowerment and positive change, he feels like it's a good place to be," Bragman said in a phone interview with the Missourian. 

The St. Louis Rams selected Sam in the seventh round of Saturday's NFL draft, making him the first openly gay player drafted into the league. Sam publicly came out as gay on Feb. 9. 

Multiple networks approached Sam when he first announced he was gay, but he felt most comfortable with the former daytime talk-show host, Bragman said.

The series will "follow Sam as he works to earn his spot on the St. Louis Rams — all while under the intense scrutiny of being the first openly gay player in the NFL," according to an OWN news release.

Bragman emphasized the documentary will not interfere with Sam's NFL pursuit.

"Be advised: Michael's No. 1 job is to make the football team," Bragman said. "If it comes to a choice between the doc and football, we're always going to err on the side of football."

"I am determined. And if seeing my story helps somebody else accept who they are and to go for their dreams, too, that’s great. I am thankful to Oprah for her support and excited to work together," Sam said in the network's news release.

A camera crew has already been following Sam's recent events, including Tuesday's Rams press conference and Saturday's reaction by Sam that included kissing his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano.

"As we get closer to announcing an air date, we will have more information on what the pilot episode might contain," OWN spokeswoman Wendy Luckenbill said. 

Winfrey said in the news release, "We are honored that Michael is trusting us with his private journey in this moment that has not only made history but will shape it forever."

The working title of the series is "The Untitled Michael Sam Project," according to the release. There is no official date scheduled for airing of the series, and the amount of episodes to be shot has not been announced, according to Bragman and Luckenbill. Bragman said the documentary should not be confused with a reality TV show.

"It's more respected. It's more historical, it's more appropriate for this case," Bragman said. "We didn't want to do a silly reality show — this is not silly."

The Rams begin offseason training Friday with a three-day rookie minicamp. 

"He'll meet his responsibilities," Bragman said. "We've looked at his calendar. We've talked to the team. We're not taking on anything we can't handle."

Supervising editor is Mark Selig.


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