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Rams' Sam: "I'm determined to be great"

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: May 13 2014 07:18:43 PM CDT
Updated On: May 14 2014 01:43:29 PM CDT
Michael Sam smiling

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Sam is eager to be just another football player.

He stood out from the crowd Tuesday, however, when he appeared at an introductory press conference along with other St. Louis Rams rookie draft picks.

Sam, a defensive end out of the University of Missouri, became the first openly gay NFL draft choice when the Rams selected him in the seventh round with the 249th overall pick last week.

A massive media presence attended Tuesday's press conference in Earth City, Mo., and Sam stole the spotlight.

Appearing at the dais along with the Rams' other late-round draft picks, Sam acknowledged that his goal of focusing on football will be difficult due to the hoopla surrounding him. He came out as gay to his Missouri teammates a year ago, and he publicly revealed his sexual orientation in February.

"I use little things to motivate me, make me a better player," Sam said. "Thank God for you (media members) for making this all a big deal, because it's just going to make me an even better player than I am now."

Sam also passed along a message to others.

"It's OK to be who you are," Sam said. "It's OK to be comfortable in your own skin."

He added, "I'm determined to be great."

Sam said his new teammates and organization are embracing him.

"(The Rams) see good potential in people," he said. "They're ready to win a championship, and I hope I'll be a part of this team to help them win a championship."

Looking back on the draft, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said, "Shortly before we got to our pick, Michael's value as a football player was off the charts. He has an opportunity now to come in and compete to try to make our team."

Defensive tackle Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh, a first-round pick, said of Sam, "Judge him by what he does on the field. I think everybody wants to make his own decisions, and if that's the way he wants to live his life, I don't think it will interfere with football."

Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, a second-round pick out of Florida State, added about Sam, "He's a courageous young man. "He's a brave young man that we need in this organization."

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