KSDK – Michael Sam says he's "pissed off" for greatness.
"Let me tell you something," he told local media during a conference call Saturday afternoon, after the St. Louis Rams selected him in the 7th round as the 249th pick in the 2014 NFL draft. "If we were playing the Vikings right now, I'd probably have three sacks in the first game."
The 6'2", 252 pound co-defensive SEC player of the year and standout University of Missouri defensive end thought he should have been drafted earlier, based on his accomplishments alone. And now that he has a shot at playing in the NFL, he's blazing another trail: as the first openly gay player to be drafted into the league.
But he says that's not what matters to him.
"What I do on the field will determine how great Michael Sam will be," he said.
But that doesn't mean he wasn't emotional about being chosen. You can watch the video below to see how he and his loved ones reacted to the news:
Sam came out in two separate New York Times and ESPN interviews in February. He said his teammates at Mizzou have known about his sexuality since August.
And while many scouts had pegged him as a third-day pick – citing his relatively small size and disappointing showing at the NFL scouting combine – Sam still believes his sexuality played a role in why many teams chose not to draft him.
"From last year alone, I should have been in the top three rounds, easily," he said. "You know what? It doesn't matter who was talking to me. They didn't have the balls that St. Louis has. I'm proud to give everything I've got for St. Louis."
As for Sam's teammates, they're just glad to have another strong defensive player on the team.
"The kid's a football player," Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "I don't think [drafting Sam] was courageous. I think it was a calculated move by the organization… I think football-wise it was a smart decision."
The significance of the decision wasn't lost, however, on coach Jeff Fisher.
"From a historic standpoint, I'm honored to be a part of it," he said.
It isn't the first time the Rams have broken barriers.
A full year before Jackie Robinson became the first black player in Major League Baseball, the then-Los Angeles Rams inked a deal with Kenny Washington, the first African-American to join a professional sports team.
Time will tell if Sam paves the way for other gay players to be drafted. The NFL has already pledged its support toward the newest St. Louis Ram.
"We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage," the NFL said in a statement back in February. "Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."
Although some members of the St. Louis community didn't seem thrilled to welcome Michael Sam to their hometown team (they refused to speak on camera), others say they're excited.
"It's fine with me," one fan told NewsChannel 5. "I mean if he's open and he wants to play, let him play."
"I think it's great," another said. "I think it's great they gave him the opportunity to do that."
"So many people are proud of the St. Louis organization for being the one to make history," Sam said.
Last week, it was announced that he was selected as the winner of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. ESPN says its honoring Sam for his "courage and honesty that resonates beyond sports."
"You know, I don't think there is anything courageous I did," Sam said. "I look forward to when we can live in a world when gays don't have to come out in public."
Sam is one of 11 players drafted by the Rams, and when he shows up for mini-camp with the other rookies on Monday, he says his goal is to help his team win.
"It's all about football," he said. "I've prepared for this moment for a very long time. I'm excited, I'm ready and I'm so determined.
… Can Michael Sam play football? Yes I can, and the St. Louis Rams know I can and I'm going to give everything I've got to the St. Louis Rams to help them win a championship."