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Sunday, May 11, 2014
Jason Collins on Michael Sam: 'A great day'

By Ian Begley

NEW YORK -- Jason Collins didn't have a chance to watch Michael Sam make history Saturday. Collins was preparing for Game 3 of the Brooklyn Nets' series against the Miami Heat.

Instead, Collins sent Sam a congratulatory text message, and hopes to speak to him soon.

In the meantime, Collins has a message for the St. Louis Rams, and for Sam, now the first openly gay player in the NFL.

"Things can and will be normal," Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, said. "There will be an initial wave (of attention) for a couple weeks. But like it is with me, it's about basketball. It's not about anything else. It's about your on-court performance and how you help the team win."

Sam was selected in the seventh round of the NFL draft Saturday by the Rams.

"It takes more and more people just to come forward and show we’re normal people and we’re just trying to make plays to help our respective teams win," Collins said. "This is a great day for the NFL and for Michael Sam and his family.

"It's just another example of a person being their authentic true self and being accepted and earning a job as a professional athlete."

Video of Sam kissing his boyfriend shortly after hearing St. Louis selected him was broadcast on television Saturday. Collins downplayed the significance of that.

"We're gay, we have boyfriends. We have our lives off the court and it's cool to see him share that moment," Collins said.

Collins was asked if he hopes there will be a day when an openly gay athlete playing professional sports doesn't warrant national news coverage.

"I think that day will come but we're not there in the sports world and in society," Collins said. "With more and more of us continuing to step forward and showing that, yeah, we're gay and we're professional athletes (that day will come)."