Michael Sam announced that he is gay shortly before the NFL combines—a series of tests used by NFL scouts to gauge a player’s strengths and weaknesses.
Some believe the prospect of becoming the first openly gay NFL player may have affected Sam’s workout, since he didn’t run as fast or jump as high as many believed he would. There were murmurs that Sam, who was a defensive juggernaut at the University of Missouri, might not even be drafted. And then the call came, three days after the first-round picks had been announced.
Sam was drafted in the seventh round, the 249th pick overall, and there is still a chance that he may not make the final roster, but Sam fans don’t care. According to CBS Sports, Sam’s jersey is the second-highest-selling jersey among rookies. His is second only to Cleveland savior Johnny Manziel’s and has outsold those of first-round picks Jadeveon Clowney (first overall) and Blake Bortles (third overall).
“This is unprecedented for a day 3 pick, let alone a seventh-round pick, to crack the top five rookies sold following draft weekend,” NFL spokeswoman Joanna Hunter told CBS Sports.
The funny thing is, Sam’s jersey is outselling bigger names even though players like Manziel, Bortles and Clowney had a three-day jump on jersey sales. Since those players were drafted days ahead, their jerseys were available on Thursday, while Sam’s wasn’t available until Saturday, CBS Sports reports.
“We think this is a sign of what we’ve been saying all along, that Michael’s inclusion in the NFL is bringing fans into the game who weren’t previously consumers of the NFL game,” Sam’s agent, Cameron Weiss, told ESPN.
Read more at CBS Sports.