- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Rams coach Jeff Fisher was on the telephone with owner Stan Kroenke two picks before taking Michael Sam.

Fisher got the go-ahead. And the Rams took the plunge on a player who will forever be known as the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.

Not long after Sam made his announcement, Fisher said he’d have absolutely no problem coaching Sam. He proudly made the pick.

“We’re in an age of diversity. Players understand that, they know that,” Fisher said Saturday as the league was buzzing with the historic pick. “People will try to make it a distraction but it’s not a distraction.”


The Rams drafted Sam based on the Missouri star’s ability - and with confidence they’re ready for the sideshow that surely will follow. Rookies report on Monday ahead of a rookie minicamp later in the week.

Fisher and general manager Les Snead didn’t check with players before making the pick. So far they haven’t been disappointed with expectations Sam would be welcomed with open arms, just like any other new teammate.

The timing is right, he believes, just as it was when Sam told Missouri teammates he was gay before the start of fall drills and there were zero leaks.

“I’m sure it was a very, very difficult thing for him to do,” the coach said. “I would also submit it was probably a tremendous load off his shoulders.”

If problems develop, Fisher said, he’ll nip them in the bud. But none are anticipated.

“Hey, are there going to be idiots out there and say some stupid stuff? Yeah,” Sam said in a conference call with St. Louis reporters. “I’m not worried about that.”

So far, Sam has been deluged with congratulatory texts and tweets from teammates and around the league.

Teammate Robert Quinn, a defensive lineman, tweeted: “Welcome to the squad @MikeSamFootball #D-LineShowtime.”

The Rams are getting viewed as pioneers.

“I welcome any person like Michael Sam into the NFL, just like I’d welcome every other football player that got drafted,” Bills general manager Doug Whaley said.

“It was exciting to see that emotion but also see that he went to a good football team,” Broncos GM John Elway said. “Obviously, they thought that Michael was going to fit them very well.”

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