Green Bay Packers coach calls gay player courageous

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Packers coach Mike McCarthy welcomes gay players.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says Michael Sam, the college football star and NFL draft prospect who came out as gay earlier this week, is courageous and talented.

McCarthy talked with reporters during a scheduled media session in Green Bay on Feb. 10.

He said of Sam, a defensive lineman for the University of Missouri, "I think you definitely have to feel that he's a courageous young man."

McCarthy also said Sam is a talented player, and that's what Green Bay looks for in the draft. The Bilerico Project reported McCarthy said Packers general manager Ted Thompson and "I are going through the draft process right now, and at the end of the day it comes down to good football players. Any player that can come here and be a good teammate, follow the rules of our program, which is one, be respectful and produce on the football field, we've got room for that guy."

Assistant coach Alex Van Pelt added, "If anybody can come in and help us win games and be successful — black, white, yellow, straight, gay — I don't think it matters. As long as you're a good person and you're respectful in the locker room to each other, then you can help us win on Sundays and are welcome."

On Feb. 9, Sam became the first Division I college football player to come out as gay. He is the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-team all-SEC selection during his senior year at Missouri.

Sam is expected to be a top pick in the NFL draft next month.

"Trailblazers like Michael are tearing down barriers to equality almost daily, and I sincerely believe that the young person who will go on to become the first openly LGBT president of the United States watches today's news somewhere in this country and is inspired," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “We must of course also recognize heroes like Billie Jean King, Renee Richards, Greg Louganis, and the many others who courageously paved the way for athletes like Michael Sam to come out."