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   WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House is applauding a University of Missouri football player's decision to announce that he is gay, with President Barack Obama's spokesman, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden all portraying him as a courageous and inspirational athlete.
   Biden and the first lady took to Twitter on Monday to comment on Michael Sam, the all-American college player who declared publicly on Sunday that he is gay. Mrs. Obama says she "couldn't be prouder" of Sam's courage, both on and off the field.
   The tweet was signed "-mo," which is how the White House marks messages personally sent by the first lady.
   "Your courage is an inspiration to all of us," Biden said. The message was signed "-VP," which designates that the vice president sent it personally.
   Sam could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL. He's scheduled to participate in the league's weeklong scouting camp, where potential draftees are evaluated, later this month in Indianapolis. He is currently projected to be a mid-round draft pick in May.
   White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president "shares the sentiments expressed by the first lady and the vice president and so many others in marveling at his courage and congratulating him on the decisions he's made, on the support he's had from his team and wishing him well in the future, including in professional football."
   Carney said Sam's announcement should not affect his standing on the NFL draft and that his abilities should be measured by his performance.
   "And in this case, his performance has been exceptional," Carney said.
 
Published in National News

   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.

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"I think a lot of guys in the NFL are going to say they will accept it, but there are a lot of guys who won't. The reality is Michael Sam is going to open himself up to a lot of criticism and a lot of challenges. Those are challenges most gay people have to go through, but when you are dealing with alpha males and some meatheads in an NFL locker room it's amplified. And there are some guys who have strong religious beliefs too, so he's going to be judged. He's going to face some things that are going to be very difficult to overcome." — Former NFL offensive lineman Frank Garcia, now a sports radio show host with WFNZ-AM in Charlotte.
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"Had multiple convos with @MikeSamFootball this year, amazed at his honesty & courage! Once a tiger, ALWAYS a Tiger." — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and former Missouri star Chase Daniel on Twitter @ChaseDaniel.
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"Very happy for Michael Sam. His courage will inspire millions to live their truth." — MLS player Robbie Rogers, who is gay, on Twitter.
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"I could care less about a man's sexual preference! i care about winning games and being respectful in the locker room!" — Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams on Twitter @DeAngeloRB.
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"We are so proud of Michael for what he has accomplished at Mizzou academically, socially and competitively. This is a young man who earned his degree from MU, was a unanimous All-American on the football field and now he's being a leader in his personal life. He continues to display great character, courage and compassion. We are proud of him on every level." — Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden.
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"Best of luck in the draft @MikeSamFootball. #respect #YouCanPlay @YouCanPlayTeam" — Former NFL player Zak DeOssie on Twitter @zdeossie.
___
 
"There will be some interest early on (and missteps), but by week one, it'll be a non story. The way it should be from that point on." — Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy on Twitter @BMcCarthy32.
 
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