Missouri Tigers head coach Gary Pinkel has spoken positively about Michael Sam, after the defensive end announced that he was gay earlier this week.
The 24-year-old, who has spent four years playing college football with the Tigers and was a consensus All-American in 2013, could become the NFL's first openly gay player if he is drafted in May.
Sam's brave and admirable decision to come out has attracted praise from across the sporting world, with athletes, pundits and fans alike clamouring to congratulate the Texas-born player.
Pinkel has coached the Tigers for over a decade now and evidently believes that Sam's actions could have a profound effect on society moving forward.
"The last 24 hours have been amazing,” he was quoted by The Guardian.
“This decision is going to affect our society, in hopefully a very, very positive way.”
Former Kent State tight end Pinkel was also quick to reject and refute apparently misguided claims that the coaching staff at Missouri has encouraged Sam to remain silent until the season had finished.
"Somebody reported that, but I don’t care what they say, that was 100% his choice. One hundred percent his choice. Whatever he decided, we were going to do. And that’s fact, and anybody that says any different, hasn’t done their research or they’re not telling the truth," he added.
Given the timing of Sam's announcement, it will be interesting to see the impact it has on his draft stock.
Given that attitudes to homosexuality rightfully appear to have evolved significantly over the years and the brave precedent set by the likes of English cricketer Steven Davis and Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz, among others, you would desperately hope that Sam is judged solely on his footballing ability.
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