Obama congratulates Michael Sam

President Obama offered congratulations to Michael Sam, who on Saturday became the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team.

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The St. Louis Rams took Sam, a defensive end from the University of Missouri, in the seventh round with the 249th overall pick.

“The president congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward in our nation's journey,” the White House said on Saturday. “From the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are.”

Obama has sought to give public support to openly gay athletes. NBA player Jason Collins was a guest of Michelle Obama at the State of the Union in January, and last month he named Collins, who was signed by the Brooklyn Nets, to serve on his Council of Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

Sam announced he was gay in February, launching a debate about whether the disclosure would hurt his standing in the draft after a season in which he was an All-American and defensive player of the year in his conference.