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CLEVELAND (AP) — The greatest players and coaches in NFL history believe openly gay defensive end Michael Sam, who is expected to be drafted next week, will be accepted in the league.

Lions running back Barry Sanders, Buffalo coach Marv Levy and other members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame applauded Sam's courage to step forward, and said with no hesitancy that the former Missouri player will be welcomed by whichever team selects him.

Levy, who led the Bills to four straight appearances in the Super Bowl, said Saturday at a "Fan Fest" event that his only consideration in drafting Sam would be "is he the best guy at his position when we're on the board?"

Hall of Fame cornerback Michael Haynes said the timing of Sam's decision to reveal his sexuality is good because previous generations were not as open-minded.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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