ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – Newly drafted St. Louis Rams Defensive End, Michael Sam of Mizzou, arrived in St. Louis, Monday.
In the hours since the Rams made Sam the first openly gay player ever drafted, people who don’t follow football have called about Rams season tickets, a staff member said.
People who’d never heard of Michael Sam applauded when he boarded his plane from Las Vegas to St. Louis.
“We got the gate and we’re waiting to board and I looked over and I was like, ‘April, that’s him!’” said Josh Redou of Mulberry Grove, IL.
He and his wife, April, were on the flight with Sam.
They were on their way home from their honeymoon. They snapped photos and took videos with their phones like seemingly everyone else, as Sam waited to board.
“He took pictures with a couple of kid’s right at the gate,” April said.
“Everybody just like, when they knew who he was they were like, ‘man we’re so proud of you’. I think it’s a great thing he’s done, coming out and being … just being brave to do that,” her husband said.
“He had a nice big round of applause from everybody. They were congratulating him and welcoming him to St. Louis. It was really impressive to see,” said another passenger, Jason Hall.
The same kinds of responses have been pouring in since the Rams drafted Sam in the 7th round, Saturday.
Magic Johnson tweeted congrats, also saying, “I take my hat off to Rams Owner Stan Kroenke.”
Musician John Legend also tweeted congrats – calling the moment “a victory for love”.
Ellen Degeneres tweeted, too, saying she was proud of the St. Louis Rams.
Michael Sam’s Rams jersey is outselling that of every other draftee besides Johnny Manziel, even though Sam doesn’t even have an assigned number.
The Rams’ brass welcomed it all while reiterating the focus was football.
“Yes, it’s a positive, being in that light,” said Rams General Manger, Les Snead. “It’s nice. It needed to be done. Long after you and I are gone, this will be dot #1 on the time line. Somewhere along the way, this will just be normal. There will be no more interviews. That’s the neat thing. We’ll try to speed up that process as soon as possible.”
Snead said from the Rams perspective, Sam was just another Rams rookie. Like the rest of the Rams rookies he had dinner and meetings at Rams Park Monday night. Like the rest of the Rams rookies, Sam would be available for media interviews Tuesday and that would be it for the week.
Still, it was already clear; Sam was not just another rookie.
An airport worker said Sam got off the plane and walked out a side door in the jetway where a police escort was waiting.