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Michael Sam wanted to come out as gay after NFL Draft

Sam said he wanted to come out to his NFL team after May's draft, but knew his increasingly open secret wouldn't hold out that long.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation 2014 NFL Draft

Michael Sam made history on Feb. 9 when he announced he was gay, likely making him the first openly gay active NFL player. As it turns out, that historic day came much earlier than Sam anticipated.

Sam told People Magazine that his original intention was to wait until after the NFL Draft -- he was taken in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams last weekend -- to reveal his sexuality.

"When I came out in February, it actually wasn't the time I wanted to come out," Sam said. "I was going to come out to my [pro] team -- whoever drafted me."

Sam's sexuality was an open secret in his college town of Columbia, where he had already opened up to his Missouri Tigers teammates before the 2013 season. Under the glare of increased media scrutiny following his SEC Defensive Player of the Year performance, Sam knew the news would break before he could release it himself.

"When I came out in February, I did it because when I participated in the Senior Bowl, I was surprised how many people in the media knew," Sam told People. "Everyone who did an interview with me said, 'OK, we know you're gay, can we break the story?' So I said OK, and I called my agent. The rest is history."

In an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Sam's coming out published on SB Nation's LGBT blog, Outsports, Cyd Zeigler chronicled the decision to move up the announcement. Sam's publicist and agents -- who had coordinated a three-pronged simultaneous release with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports -- first settled on a Feb. 26 date immediately after the NFL Combine.

During the Senior Bowl in January, however, it became clear the date would have to be moved up.

"At the Senior Bowl, it was the first question I got from the scouts almost every time," Sam's agent, Joe Barkett, told Zeigler. "They would ask about spending time with him, were there girls around? Who is his girlfriend? They didn't ask that about another client, Tom Hornsey. They only asked it about Michael."

The announcement was bumped up to Feb. 10, one week after the Super Bowl. But when the news began making the rounds among the major outlets -- Sports Illustrated, CNN, Fox Sports, etc. -- the announcement was moved up 24 hours, when it was officially made on Feb. 9.