sport

Rams unveil history-maker Sam

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, insists he wants to be "great" as he was officially unveiled by the St Louis Rams.

Sam has become arguably the most famous seventh-round draft pick in history, and he is hoping that after the initial fuss, he will become known for being fine player rather than because of his sexuality.

"I'm determined to be great," Sam told a press conference. "I understand that right now you guys want to make a big deal of it."

Sam came out to his team-mates in his senior season at Missouri, so he insists his sexuality was hardly a secret.

"Apparently, everybody else makes a big deal out of it," Sam said. "But my team-mates and my school didn't.

"It's okay to be who you are. Whether you're gay, straight, black or white, it's okay to be comfortable in your own skin."

Coach Jeff Fisher said the signing of Sam was a "second historic moment" for the Rams. They were the first franchise to sign a black player in the modern era - running back Kenny Washington back in 1946.

Equality

"I will always support equality, period," Sam said. "But my job is to focus on football and help this team win a championship."

When Sam became the 249th overall draft pick a few days earlier, there were only a handful of journalists present. At his press conference on Monday, there were around 80.

General manager Les Snead said :"There's some energy here. But I don't think this is a circus. This deserves attention, but we'll get it over and we'll get to work."

Lamarcus Joyner, a cornerback from Florida State and a second-round pick for St Louis, applauded his new team-mate's decision to come out.

"He's a courageous young man," he said. "He's a brave young man that we need in this organisation."

First-round pick Aaron Donald said: "He's a cool guy. He's a football player, he works his butt off and that's what you want. You want playmakers around you and he's a playmaker."

Third-round pick Tre Mason said: "He's a man of his own and he's entitled to do that. We're a team and he's also a family member to me now."