Michael Sam, the former Missouri defensive lineman poised to become the NFL's first openly gay player, appeared before NFL scouts during Mizzou's pro day on Thursday. But before the media could scrutinize his potential in the NFL, Sam took a moment to issue a heartfelt open letter to his alma mater.
Adressed to his "fellow University of Missouri students, athletes, faculty, alumni and supporters," the letter is a warm thank-you to the community for their support when he came out in early February.
"You gave me a chance to live my truth without judgment, without hesitation and with great discretion and respect," he wrote in the letter, published this morning in the The Missourian. "When I came out last month, I did it with the confidence that my Mizzou 'family' would always be there for me. To put it mildly, the love and acceptance I felt was amazing."
He also published the letter on his Facebook page. It can be read in full, below:
The day after Sam came out, fans modified the "M" printed in the stands behind the end zone at the Mizzou Stadium, writing an "S" and "A" in the snow to spell out "SAM" in block letters.
— Michael Sam (@MikeSamFootball) February 10, 2014
He references the display in his letter as an example of the school's "unconditional love," writing, "I worked hard not to cry because of the amazing reception."