NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was quite a year for Michael Sam.
In February, the defensive end came out to the world and subsequently became the first openly-gay man in NFL history to be drafted.
But the Rams, who drafted Sam, cut him prior to the season opener. The 24-year-old signed with the Cowboys later in the season but was released from the practice squad in October. He never played a regular-season snap and is currently a free agent.
But despite the disappointments on the field, Sam has been lauded for his role as a trailblazer and a pioneer.
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, which will air on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Sam acknowledged that there are other gay players in the league, and some of them have reached out to him.
“Very few reached out to me and pretty much just told me their gratitude and how they were thankful that I had the courage (to come out publicly),” Sam said in a sneak preview of the interview on Winfrey’s official website. “They wished that they had the courage to come out.”
“Gay men in the NFL reached out to you and called you?” Winfrey responded.
“Yes,” Sam replied. “(They) just showed their respect and admired my courage … It was very good.”
The Missouri product didn’t reveal how many gay NFL players he’s spoken with, but he claims that he was in touch with more than one.
“There’s a lot of us out there,” Sam said. “I’m not the only one. I’m just the only one who’s open.”
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