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Michael Sam to Oprah: Gay NFL players reached out to me in gratitude

Last spring, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL.

It was an historic moment for the league, but it was one that required careful wording because there was absolutely no doubt that there were gay players in the league. Their identities just weren’t known. Now, six months later, Sam has revealed in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that gay players in the league called to thank him for doing what they could not.

Sam, who was a seventh-round pick by the St. Louis Rams, doesn’t name names or cite actual numbers, but he said that it was more than one player, adding “there’s a lot of us out there.”

“A very few reached out to me and pretty much just told me their gratitude and how thankful they were that I had the courage [to come out],” Sam said in the interview, which will be shown on OWN on Saturday night. “They wished that they had the courage to come out.”

Sam was cut by the Rams just before the season began. Although he was signed to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad, he was cut Oct. 22 and has not been signed by another team.

“Gay men in the NFL reached out to me and showed their respect and admired my courage,” Sam told Winfrey. “There’s a lot of us out there. I’m not the only one. I’m just the only one who’s open.”