Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) is congratulated by defensive lineman Lucas Vincent (96) after sacking Florida Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy (not pictured) during the second half at Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri in this file photo from October 19, 2013. Photo by Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama praised the courage of National Football League hopeful Michael Sam, whose disclosure he is gay has launched a debate over whether the league is ready for its first openly gay player, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday.
"I have spoken about this with him and he, like the first lady, like so many others, admires Michael Sam's courage and believes that the action he has taken is an important step and looks forward to seeing him playing in the NFL," Carney told reporters at a briefing.
Sam starred as a defensive lineman at the University of Missouri and is expected to be selected in the upcoming NFL draft, where stand-out college players can earn million-dollar salaries. While the NFL and many of Sam's teammates have rallied around him, some commentators have been less enthusiastic.
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)