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The world of football as we know it is about to change.

Fighting back against American football’s anti-gay bravado, Michael Sam, an All-American defensive lineman from the University of Missouri, publicly revealed that he’s gay on Sunday. That means the NFL may see their first openly gay player in the history of the league.

“I came to tell the world I’m an openly proud gay man,” he said in an interview with ESPN.

Sam said he told his teammates in August and instead of receiving repercussions or discrimination synonymous with anti-gay locker room culture, his teammates offered him their support.

“I understand how big this is,” Sam said in the ESPN interview. “It’s a big deal. No one has done this before. And it’s kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be … I want to be a football player in the NFL.”

And that dream seems possible. At 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, Sam is first team All-American and was named the top defensive player in the Southeastern Conference, considered the nation’s best league. Teammates named him the team’s most valuable player.

Sam led the SEC with 11.5 sacks, and 19 tackles for a loss. Most NFL draft projections see him as a likely mid-round pick, with some saying Sam could go as high as the third round, with a possible position switch to outside linebacker. He is rated as the 12th-best outside pass rusher in the draft by ESPN Scouts Inc.

The NFL issued a statement on Sunday:

“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”

Here’s hoping Sam’s announcement eradicates anti-gay culture in football locker rooms. We wish him the best.

SOURCE: CNN | VIDEO SOURCE: AP

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