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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Michael Sam says he wants to be known as just a football player, hopeful his sexuality soon won't be a story.
The defensive end from Missouri made his first public appearance Saturday since announcing he's gay. He said at the NFL scouting combine he's not worried about the way he'll be treated once he enters the league.
Sam smiled and laughed often during a 12½-minute news conference at Lucas Oil Stadium, looking relaxed and confident.
Sam is projected as a mid-round pick in the draft in May. He says he doesn't care what position he plays, as long as he can rush the passer.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Michael Sam received a standing ovation when he appeared on the arena video boards during Missouri's basketball game against Tennessee on Saturday.
The All-America defensive end who could became the first openly gay player in the NFL, later a blew a kiss to the student section and shook hands with fans.
Sam and football team were honored at halftime for their Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State.
Wearing a shirt declaring "We Are All CoMo Sexuals," 51-year-old Michelle Carmichael joined more than a thousand others in forming a line of support for Sam.
The shirt plays off the nickname of Columbia, where Sam announced to his teammates in August that he was gay. The NFL hopeful shared his sexuality with the world last Sunday.
Missouri All-American Michael Sam says he is gay, and the defensive end could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL. Sam told ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports, that he came out to his Mizzou teammates and coaches in August.
The 255 pound Sam participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama last month after leading the SEC with 11 1/2 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He's projected to be a mid-round NFL draft pick.
Sam says: "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."
Reaction to Michael Sam saying in interviews that he is gay:
"It takes an incredible amount of courage to break ground on a social issue on a national stage. Michael Sam is a young man of tremendous fortitude and confidence. It is these traits that make it possible for him to be among the best on the field and now to have an impact on the world of sport in a very important way. I also applaud the wonderful support given to him by his teammates and the University of Missouri." — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive.