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Reuters

Feb 10 (The Sports Xchange) - Michael Sam could become the first openly gay man to play in the NFL, and while the former Missouri defensive end is prepared to handle that spotlight, he acknowledged in interviews with the New York Times and ESPN's "Outside the Lines" that going public with his sexuality is a "load off my chest."

Sam, 24, came out to his Tigers teammates in August, and went on to become the co-defensive player of the year in the SEC after registering 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.

Initial reaction from NFL circles and was overwhelmingly supportive. Several players took to Twitter to support his decision to come out, and NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth believes the league's players will accept Sam.

"I know that the union will accept him with open arms, as will our players," Foxworth told ESPN radio on Monday.

In a statement, the NFL said: "We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage. 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."

Still, the debate will continue about whether Sam's stock for the upcoming NFL Draft in May will be impacted, and about how well he will be received in an NFL locker room. Sam is currently the No. 110-rated prospect by NFLDraftScout.com. He is projected to be a third- or fourth-round draft pick.

Next up is next week's Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Teams are forbidden from seeking information or making personnel decisions "based on a player's sexual orientation," according to the NFL's sexual orientation, anti-discrimination and harassment policy.

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Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee has not been medically cleared by team doctors two months after sustaining a torn ligament in his neck, ESPN Dallas reported.

Lee said his neck feels healthy. He has been rehabbing and working out at the team's Valley Ranch facility since the end of the season. The Cowboys start their official offseason program April 21.

Lee signed a six-year contract extension worth up to $51 million last summer.

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The Washington Redskins announced that they named Doug Williams as personnel executive.

Williams will work with general manager Bruce Allen and the rest of the front office to build the Redskins roster.

Williams led the Redskins to a title in the Super Bowl in 1988. He was the first African-American quarterback to play in a Super Bowl.

Williams, 58, played for the Redskins from 1986-89.

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed quarterback Mike Kafka and released tackle Gabe Carimi, running back Michael Hill, defensive tackle Derek Landri and quarterback Jordan Rodgers.

Kafka, 26, did not play last season after spending part of training camp with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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The Indianapolis Colts signed free agent safety David Sims. Sims had eight solo tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass breakup in 15 games with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. He was waived by the Eagles last August.

The Colts also waived guard Justin Anderson. Anderson was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list on Aug. 27, 2012 and was placed on Injured Reserve on Aug. 9, 2013. He has never played in an NFL game.

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The Jacksonville Jaguars added linebackers coach Robert Saleh and assistant linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton to their coaching staff.

Saleh, 35, spent the last three seasons as the Seattle Seahawks' defensive quality control coach. Hazelton, a veteran of 18 years of collegiate coaching experience, spent last season as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Nevada. (Editing by Gene Cherry)

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