NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sheldon Richardson knew Michael Sam was gay. And it never mattered to him.
It was, simply put, never an issue.
He’s just proud his former roommate at the University of Missouri had the courage to come out publicly and reveal his sexuality.
“I lived with Michael Sam,” Richardson said during an interview Tuesday with New York’s SNY cable network. “Regular guy, has his own sexuality. Didn’t take nothing from him. He was a great teammate, a great person. Everything you wanted out of him, you got out of him.
“You wanted a football player. You got the football player.”
Richardson, the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, spoke to SNY while training in Houston with Jets teammate Muhammad Wilkerson. He said Sam never came out to him during their time as roommates, but “you knew, you saw him.” Richardson added that Sam’s sexuality had no effect on their relationship.
“I didn’t care,” Richardson said. “I wasn’t there when he came out to the team … but like I said, seen him pretty much every morning, every day, so just something you get used to. He left the house, went to school, went to class, went to practice and came home. … Conversed when we wanted to, but it wasn’t anything unusual.
“He was my guy, my homeboy.”
Sam, an All-America defensive end, revealed to his teammates he was gay at one of the football team’s dinners last summer — after Richardson had been drafted in the first round by the Jets. On Sunday, Sam came out publicly in interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports, and he could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL.
“He had his best season when he came out to the team, so I’m actually happy for him,” Richardson said. “And it worked out for him. Didn’t go the opposite way because I know he was scared and nervous just for him to be himself and just him getting that monkey off his back was well worth it because he had his best season of football at Mizzou.”
Richardson also insists there’s “most definitely” a place for Sam in an NFL locker room.
“I promise you, his sexuality has nothing to do with him playing on the football field,” Richardson said. “He is a completely different person. He put this face on. No smiles, serious business. He’s a killer.”
Sam is projected by many as a potential middle-round draft pick in May. Richardson thinks NFL teams will be able to adjust to the scrutiny and attention that having Sam on their roster could bring.
“I believe, I mean, unless your team is immature minded,” Richardson said. “If guys can’t get past that then, I mean it’s just crazy. Of course, it might be weird at first if you aren’t used to it because, like I said, with me living with him it was a little bit unusual at first, but it’s stuff you look past.”
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