Commish welcomes Michael Sam

Updated: February 13, 2014, 9:29 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expressed public support for Michael Sam for the first time Wednesday night, three days after the All-American defensive lineman from Missouri that he is gay during an interview with ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

"Good for him," Goodell said, via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello's Twitter page. "He's proud of who he is and had the courage to say it. Now he wants to play football. We have a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. We will have further training and make sure that everyone understands our commitment. We truly believe in diversity and this is an opportunity to demonstrate it."

Goodell, who has a gay brother, made the comments at Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition Wall Street Project in New York.

Assuming he is drafted in May, Sam would become the first openly gay player in NFL history.

NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth said Monday that he thinks that NFL players will accept Sam  "with open arms."

Sam led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss last season, helping Missouri reach the SEC championship game.

Most NFL draft projections see Sam as a midround pick, with some saying he could go as high as the third round with a possible position switch to outside linebacker. Sam is rated as the 12th-best outside pass-rusher in the draft by ESPN Scouts Inc.

"I just want to go to the team who drafts me," Sam said Sunday. "Because that team knows about me, knows that I'm gay, and also knows that I work hard. That's the team I want to go to."

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