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Michael Sam lineman for University of Missouri comes out as openly gay

Michael Sam, a University of Missouri all America defensive lineman expected to be drafted into the NFL, today told ESPN's Chris Connelly that he is gay.

"I came to tell the world that I'm an openly, proud gay man," Sam said today in interviews with ESPN's "Outside the Lines" and the New York Times.

Though he said he had previously told his teammates on the Tigers, he wanted to control the way the story was spread.

"I want to own my truth," he told Connelly. "Two weeks ago at The Senior Bowl I didn't realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me or tell a story. I just wanted to control the situation and tell my story."

He said that though he was nervous about doing it, it also felt good.

"It's a load off my chest," he said. "I told my teammates this past August that I came out to my teammates, and they took it great. They rallied around me, they supported me, and I couldn't have asked for better teammates."

Sam, a unanimous All-America pick, led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. He is projected to be drafted as high as the third round, and he is rated by ESPN Scouts Inc. as the 12th-best outside pass rusher in the draft.