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Obama applauds Missouri gay player for coming out

AP - Sports
Confident Sam wishes focus could stay on football
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Missouri's All-American defensive end Michael Sam claps during the Cotton Bowl trophy presentation at halftime of an NCAA college basketball game between Missouri and Tennessee, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Columbia, Mo. Sam came out to the entire country Sunday, Feb. 9, and could become the first openly gay player in the NFL. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

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.

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 week after his announcement. A spokesman had said Obama shared their sentiments.

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

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