CLEVELAND, Ohio — It was an announcement that still has the sports world buzzing.
“I came to tell the world that I’m an openly, proud gay man,” said Michael Sam.
Sam is an All-American defensive lineman from the University of Missouri.
He was named the top defensive player in the southeastern conference and is expected to be drafted into the NFL in May.
Sam said revealing his sexuality to his former teammates helped give him encouragement to come out publicly.
It’s something Matt Cordish was not able to do as a Garfield Heights High School hockey player.
“Coming out is not an easy feat for anyone,” said Cordish. “It’s different steps and different times for people to feel comfortable with coming out.”
Cordish had to keep his true self a secret.
“It was non-stop on my mind. In order to play the game, you have to be there all the time, 100 percent, and with hockey it’s difficult to balance on a half-of-an inch blade and have all these things going on in your mind,” said Cordish.
Cordish is now an amateur hockey player and also the marketing manager for Cleveland’s 2014 Gay Games.
He said Michael Sam couldn’t have chosen a better time to come out, adding, “In order for him to be the team player that he needs to be, he needs to be 100 percent honest with his team, and I think that now is the perfect time so his new teammates,” he said. “Wherever he goes, (they) will know, this is who he is.”
Michael Sam’s family is also reacting to his announcement.
While his father said he was shocked, he is also proud of his son. His aunt said he is making history, and the NFL is also showing its support.
Cordish is hoping the admission will encourage other young athletes to come forward.
“Their sexual orientation doesn’t define them as an athlete; their ability does,” said Cordish.