Sam's announcement comes at a time gay rights and sports have collided at the Olympics in Sochi. Russia's anti-gay propaganda law has received much attention, and criticism, because of the games.
"By rewriting the script for countless young athletes, Michael has demonstrated the leadership that, along with his impressive skills on the field, makes him a natural fit for the NFL," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization. "With acceptance of LGBT people rising across our coasts — in our schools, churches, and workplaces — it's clear that America is ready for an openly gay football star."
The NFL's sexual orientation, anti-discrimination and harassment policy states:
"Coaches, General Managers and others responsible for interviewing and hiring draft-eligible players and free agents must not seek information concerning or make personnel decisions based on a player's sexual orientation. This includes asking questions during an interview that suggest that the player's sexual orientation will be a factor in the decision to draft or sign him.
"Examples: Do you like women or men? How well do you do with the ladies? Do you have a girlfriend?"
Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams tweeted: "I could care less about a man's sexual preference! i care about winning games and being respectful in the locker room!"
Williams' teammate, cornerback Drayton Florence, posted on his Twitter account: "No comment but it can be a distraction in the locker room. At least he's open with it much respect!"
AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP
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