Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery on Monday expressed respect for Michael Sam and vowed to evaluate Sam on his football ability.
Sam, an NFL prospect and the reigning SEC defensive player of the year, said Sunday that he is gay.
“Michael stated with great poise and confidence who he is as a person and football player and I have tremendous respect for him in the way he conveyed his thoughts and the courage it took to state them publicly," Emery said in an emailed statement.
“Each and every player in the NFL is a unique individual, as we all are in life. We all ultimately gain respect in our jobs by how well we perform at our chosen profession and if the level in which we perform adds positively to the collective goal of success."
Sam played defensive end at Missouri, but at 6-foot-1, 260 pounds, he projects as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. The Bears are planning to continue with their 4-3 base front, which likely makes Sam a better fit for another team.
“Michael stated this and I agree with his thoughts. It is about his skill set as a football player to add positively to a team’s goals and that's how he will be evaluated," Emery said.