Gay football player's message met with support

A week before Missouri defensive lineman and NFL prospect Michael Sam announced he was gay, former Augsburg football player Scott Cooper said teammates treated him the same after he came out.

Scott Cooper was at his Minneapolis home Sunday scrolling through Facebook on his phone when someone shared a link that former Missouri defensive end and NFL draft prospect Michael Sam had announced he is gay.

Cooper, who recently ended his college career at Augsburg College, was excited by the news. The 24-year-old made the same announcement last week.

“I figured it would be just a matter of time before a Division I and, or, an NFL player or prospect, would come out,” Cooper said. “I was just happy. It’s a great story.”

Sam could become the first openly gay player in the NFL as he made his announcement a week before the NFL combine and three months before the NFL draft. Cooper and Sam both hope someday a person’s sexuality won’t cast a cloud, good or bad, over their athletic ability.

Sam’s teammates knew he was gay during his senior season after a preseason team-building exercise at which players were asked to tell something others might not know about them. He finished the year earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-America honors at defensive end.

The rest of the nation found out Sunday night when an interview with him was aired on ESPN and stories were published online from the New York Times and Outsports.com, where Cooper also wrote a story announcing he was an openly gay football player embraced by his teammates at Augsburg last week.

“I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” Sam told the New York Times on Sunday. “I just want to own my truth.”

In September, a Harris Poll found that Americans are most likely to identify the NFL as among the sports, leagues or organizations in which it would be hardest for a current athlete to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Cooper disagreed, based on his two-year experience at Augsburg. He said his teammates welcomed him as they gradually found out during a weekly student-athlete discussion group when the topic was about homosexuality.

“I think there was a great maturation by our team hopefully for the rest of their lives,” Augsburg coach Frank Haege said. “It was really a nonfactor from my vantage point.”

Sam has been projected as a third- to fifth-round choice by most NFL analysts. At 6-2 and 255 pounds, he is considered a bit too small for defensive end and not quick enough for linebacker. NFL scouts have raved about Sam’s pass-rushing ability, which has been a lacking trait in this year’s class.

NFL executives have voiced their support for Sam, and Vikings owner Zygi Wilf issued this statement: “We commend Michael Sam for being very courageous with his openness on something of such a personal nature. His comments will have no impact on how the Vikings view Michael as a football player or as a person. If a player can help us win, we will warmly welcome him as part of the team and provide an accepting, respectful and supportive environment to help him succeed in the NFL.”

The Vikings coaching staff spent most of Tuesday in draft meetings. One of the team’s coaches, special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, is the center of an independent review after being accused by former punter Chris Kluwe of anti-gay remarks. Kluwe had dinner with Sam on Saturday, the day before his announcement went public.

At the NFL combine next week, the Vikings and 31 other teams will get another look at Sam, who also participated in the Senior Bowl last month.

“I’m not naive,” Sam told the New York Times on Sunday. “I know this is a huge deal, and I know how important this is. But my role as of right now is to train for the combine and play in the NFL”

Sam’s publicist, Howard Bragman, made it clear to Outsports.com that Sam would concentrate on football from this point.

Cooper applauded Sam’s ability to bring awareness that gay athletes shouldn’t be treated differently. He hopes Sam’s story, like his own, will give confidence to other athletes struggling with the issue.

“We’re football players; we can compete,” Cooper said. “It doesn’t matter what your sexuality is. If you’re doing your job as an athlete or as a player, it doesn’t matter how you look, who you love or who you are dating.

  • related content

  • Zygi Wilf calls Sam "courageous"

    Monday February 10, 2014

    Michael Sam of Missouri is expected to be taken in the NFL draft.

  • Vikings' NFL draft 'big board' taking shape

    Monday February 10, 2014

    The Vikings officially get into draft mode on Monday as they start to assemble their big board for the NFL draft in May.

  • In this Jan. 3, 2014 photo, Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam wore an "MU Pride" bracelet made by Triangle Coalition, a student organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, before the Cotton Bowl against Oklahoma State. Missouri's All-America defensive end came out to the entire country Sunday night and could become the first openly gay player in America's most popular sport.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 12:05 PM
Detroit
Philadelphia 12:05 PM
Houston
St. Louis 12:05 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12:05 PM
Tampa Bay
NY Yankees 12:05 PM
Pittsburgh
Chicago Cubs 2:05 PM
San Francisco
Los Angeles 2:05 PM
Chicago WSox
San Diego 2:05 PM
Seattle
Cleveland 2:05 PM
Cincinnati
Milwaukee 2:05 PM
LA Angels
Oakland 2:05 PM
Chicago Cubs
Texas 2:05 PM
Kansas City
Colorado 2:10 PM
Arizona
NY Mets 4:05 PM
Washington
Boston 6:05 PM
Minnesota
Toronto 6:05 PM
Baltimore
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Chicago
Dallas 9:30 PM
Portland
Calgary 6:00 PM
Boston
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Dallas 6:30 PM
Florida
NY Islanders 7:00 PM
Nashville
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Arizona
Montreal 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Morgan State 3:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Niagara 4:00 PM
Siena
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Navy 6:00 PM
Colgate
Temple 6:00 PM
East Carolina
UAB 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Lafayette
American Univ 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Wisconsin 6:00 PM
Minnesota
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Saint Peters
Arkansas 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Morehead State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
North Florida
Southern Ill 6:05 PM
Missouri State
Texas State 6:30 PM
Appalachian St
SC State 6:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Delaware State 6:30 PM
Coppin State
Middle Tennessee 6:30 PM
FIU
Texas-Arlington 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Norfolk State 6:30 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:30 PM
NC Central
Savannah State 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Georgia State 7:00 PM
ULM
Marshall 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Rice 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Louisiana
South Alabama 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Grambling St
Alabama A&M 7:30 PM
Jackson State
Sam Houston St 7:30 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:30 PM
Nicholls
Portland State 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Southern U 7:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Houston Baptist 7:30 PM
TX A&M-CC
SE Louisiana 7:45 PM
New Orleans
California 8:00 PM
Arizona
Eastern Ill 8:00 PM
Belmont
Memphis 8:00 PM
Connecticut
VA Commonwealth 8:00 PM
Davidson
Ark-Pine Bluff 8:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Marist 8:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northwestern St 8:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
North Texas 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 8:00 PM
Washington
Idaho 8:00 PM
Weber State
Abilene Christian 8:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Eastern Wash 8:05 PM
Idaho State
Bradley 8:35 PM
Drake
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Long Beach State
UC Riverside 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Stanford 10:00 PM
Arizona State
Utah 10:00 PM
Washington St
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 27 1st Half 4:10
(22) Syracuse 26
Saint Louis 0 1st Half 17:59
VA Commonwealth 2
Saint Peters 10:45 AM
Rider
UNC-Asheville 11:00 AM
Liberty
UNC Greensboro 11:00 AM
(17) Chattanooga
Michigan State 11:30 AM
Michigan
Arkansas 12:00 PM
Ole Miss
Manhattan 12:30 PM
Niagara
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Richmond
Virginia 1:00 PM
Miami-Florida
Campbell 1:00 PM
Winthrop
Jacksonville St 1:00 PM
Belmont
Morgan State 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Furman 1:15 PM
Samford
Oregon 1:30 PM
Washington St
Indiana 1:55 PM
(23) Rutgers
Pepperdine 2:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Auburn 2:25 PM
(18) Texas A&M
Morehead St 3:00 PM
Tennessee St
George Mason 3:30 PM
Saint Josephs
Western Carolina 3:30 PM
East Tenn St
Arizona 4:00 PM
UCLA
Texas State 4:00 PM
Appalachian St
TX-Arlington 4:00 PM
Georgia Southern
SC State 4:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Delaware State 4:30 PM
Coppin State
Portland 4:30 PM
Santa Clara
Norfolk State 4:30 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 4:30 PM
NC Central
Savannah State 5:00 PM
Florida A&M
Virginia Tech 5:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Central Arkansas 5:00 PM
Nicholls
Houston Baptist 5:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
Radford
Georgia 5:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 5:00 PM
Marshall
Ark-Little Rock 5:00 PM
Louisiana
South Alabama 5:05 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 5:15 PM
ULM
Sam Houston St 5:30 PM
Lamar
SE Louisiana 5:30 PM
New Orleans
Northwestern St 5:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Alabama A&M 5:30 PM
Jackson State
Alabama State 5:30 PM
Grambling
Ark-Pine Bluff 5:30 PM
Miss Valley St
Southern U 5:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Texas Southern
Wofford 5:45 PM
Mercer
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Incarnate Word
La Salle 6:00 PM
Rhode Island
Illinois 6:00 PM
Nebraska
TX-San Antonio 6:00 PM
Rice
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
Oakland
Missouri State 6:05 PM
Indiana State
Georgia Tech 7:00 PM
(15) North Carolina
Presbyterian 7:00 PM
High Point
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
UAB
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
North Texas
Wichita State 7:00 PM
Evansville
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Bradley 7:05 PM
Drake
Vanderbilt 7:30 PM
(12) Kentucky
Colorado 8:00 PM
USC
San Francisco 8:00 PM
Pacific
FIU 8:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
Weber State 8:00 PM
Idaho
Purdue 8:25 PM
Minnesota
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Hawaii 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Northern Ariz 9:00 PM
Portland State
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Utah 10:30 PM
Washington
BYU 10:30 PM
St Marys-CA
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is the best center on a Twin Cities sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close