Sam confirmed that, saying several NFL players contacted him after he was drafted and told him they were gay. The difference, of course, is that Sam was the only one who was openly gay.
“I am not the only gay person in the NFL,” Sam said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m just saying there are a lot of us. I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL.”
Sam, who was speaking at the 2015 Dallas Holocaust Museum Upstander Speaker series, said he didn’t think it would be a big deal to come out, mostly because there are “gay athletes everywhere.” But as he knows now, it was a big deal. On one hand, there seem to be positives to it – Sam got the type of exposure almost no seventh-round pick will ever get – but the negative is he’ll always wonder if coming out hurt his professional career. He was cut by the Rams despite a solid preseason with 11 tackles and three sacks. He was signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad but cut before he ever got promoted to the active roster or appeared in a regular-season game. He hasn’t been signed since.
Sam said during his speech that he doesn’t believe he is being discriminated against. But it seemed from his quotes via the Star-Telegram that even if he doesn’t believe being gay is keeping him out of the NFL, there is a bit of lingering doubt. And that provides a pretty easy answer to why all those players who contacted Sam and told him they’re gay haven’t come out themselves.
“’Dancing with the Stars’ is my employer,” Sam said. “That’s my main source of income. … I’m unemployed, and I don’t believe I’m out of the NFL because I’m gay. But if it was a reason, it can hurt their livelihood, and you don’t want to take that chance.”