In January, it was reported by many media outlets that Jeff Sperbeck of The NOVO Agency had signed Missouri DE, Michael Sam. Since then, Sam signed with NFLPA Certified Contract Advisor, Joe Barkett, of Empire Athletes.
What is making headlines isn’t Sam’s agency swap, but his announcement on Sunday that he is gay. The 2013 First Team All-American would become the first publicly gay NFL player if he is drafted in May, which he is projected to be. Where he will land, though, is yet to be determined.
“We’re really excited to have Mike as a client, and we stand behind him,” Barkett said to Sports Agent Blog on Tuesday. “We want Mike to be as private right now as possible so that he can focus on training for football, which is what is most important right now — making sure he is ready for the NFL Combine and ready for his Pro Day and really, when he gets to Rookie Mini Camp, being in the best shape of his life so that he can prove himself at the next level.”
So, why did Sam decide to disclose the unprecedented news now versus than at a later date?
“This wasn’t the original time frame that we were looking at,” Barkett explained. “For the most part, it was after the NFL Draft. It was sped up a lot by what happened in Alabama at the Senior Bowl. He was being, for lack of a better word, approached and almost harassed by a lot of reporters from national newspapers and syndicated magazines that had a story ready to go without a comment from Mike. Mike didn’t want to have to respond to an article that was outing him. He wanted to make sure that he was doing it on his terms.”
This past season, Sam led the SEC with 10.5 quarterback sacks and 18 tackles for loss. Additionally, the Associated Press chose the Hitchcock, Texas native as SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Sam has already received much support on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. NFL Network Analyst, Deion Sanders, tweeted his support Sunday night for the draft prospect, saying, “Michael Sam isn’t the 1st gay player in the NFL although he is the 1st 2 come out. #RealTalk. Let’s show him love like a family member. Truth.”