Obama lauds gay NFL hopeful's courage

Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:25pm EST
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - 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)

Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) reacts after the game at Memorial Stadium after Missouri defeated Indiana 45-28 in Bloomington, Indiana in this file photo from September 21, 2013. Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports