WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – NFL prospect Michael Sam, who recently publicly declared himself as gay (he’d be the first openly gay player in the NFL, should he be picked up by a team in 2014) has received both high praise and harsh criticism for his courageous announcement.

One of those criticizing Sam is his own father, Michael Sam Sr., according to The New York Times.

In a story published Tuesday, Times writers Joe Drape, Steve Eder and Billy Witz caught up with the elder Sam, who said he learned of his son’s sexuality one week ago, five days prior to the Missouri standout making his announcement.

From The New York Times:

Last Tuesday, Michael Sam Sr. was at a Denny’s near his home outside Dallas to celebrate his birthday when his son sent him a text message.

Dad, I’m gay, he wrote.

The party stopped cold. “I couldn’t eat no more, so I went to Applebee’s to have drinks,” Sam Sr. said. “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.

“I’m old-school,” he added. “I’m a man and a woman type of guy.” As evidence, he pointed out that he had taken an older son to Mexico to lose his virginity.

On Sunday night, just after Michael Sam announced his intention to make sports history, his father was still struggling with the news.

Sam Sr. loves his son, and he said he hoped his son made it to the N.F.L. “As a black man, we have so many hurdles to cross,” he said. “This is just one he has to cross.”

But he expressed discomfort at the very idea of a gay N.F.L. player, even if the player was his son. He grumbled that Deacon Jones, the Hall of Fame defensive end renowned for his toughness, “is turning over in his grave.”

Sam faces an uphill battle in becoming the first openly gay male to play in any of the four major American sports.

Although, he has plenty of supporters. One of them being Cyd Zeigler of Outsports.com, who helped Sam coordinate his announcement, along with a team of publicists and agents. Earlier Tuesday, Zeigler defended Sam’s viability as an NFL-caliber player, in response to a report citing eight NFL executives who told SI.com his draft stock would suffer from his decision to come out.

Zeigler also named three teams he hopes Sam doesn’t end up playing for, a list which included the Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, and the Washington Redskins.

The NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, May eighth. NFL minds have projected Sam to be selected anywhere between the third round, or not at all.

Former Redskins and Texans GM Charley Casserly has spoken with several executives who had Sam going in either the fifth or sixth rounds, prior to his announcement. He also firmly believes his draft stock should not be affected by his decision to come out, and to any executives who disagree, he said, “shame on them.”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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