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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) - President Barack Obama is praising University of Missouri football player Michael Sam for announcing he is gay before the NFL draft.

Obama says Sam's attitude is that he knows he can play great football and that he should be judged only on those facts.

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Sam could become the NFL's first openly gay player. The defensive end is scheduled to participate in the league's scouting camp in Indianapolis later this month. He's projected to be a mid-round draft pick in May.

First lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden sent Sam messages of encouragement over Twitter last weekafter his announcement. A spokesman had said Obama shared their sentiments.

PREVIOUS STORY: Mizzou stand-out could become first openly gay player in the NFL

Obama commented in a taped interview with Charles Barkley that aired during TNT's pregame coverage of Sunday's NBA All-Star game.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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