Feb 09, 2014 10:01 PM EST By Lynne C

Michael Sam Gay: Missouri Defensive Lineman Ex-Boyfriend Was a Fellow Athlete, Not Football Player [PHOTOS]

Michael Sam, a defensive lineman from the Missouri Tigers has revealed that he is gay.

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Michael Sam, a defensive lineman from the Missouri Tigers has revealed that he is gay. 

In an interview with ESPN's Outside the Lines on Sunday, the Associated Press' SEC Defensive Player of the Year said that his coaches and teammates at Mizzou have known about his sexuality since last August. 

"I understand how big this is," Sam said. "It's a big deal. No one has done this before. And it's kind of a nervous process, but I know what I want to be ... I want to be a football player in the NFL."

The main reason why Sam has decided to come out because he felt as if people already knew about his sexuality while at the Super Bowl last week.

"I didn't realize how many people actually knew, and I was afraid that someone would tell or leak something out about me," he said. "I want to own my truth. ... No one else should tell my story but me."

Sam confirmed that he dated a fellow athlete who was not a football player. 

After coming out to his Mizzou teammates, Sam said he was nervous, but was thankful for the support.

"I was kind of scared, even though they already knew. Just to see their reaction was awesome. They supported me from Day One. I couldn't have better teammates. ... I'm telling you what: I wouldn't have the strength to do this today if I didn't know how much support they'd given me this past semester."

Sam was raised in the small town of Hitchcock, Texas and knew he was attracted to guys from a young age. 

"I didn't know if it was a phase ... I didn't want to say, 'Hey, I might be gay. I might be bi.' I just didn't know ... I wanted to find who I was and make sure I knew what was comfortable. So I didn't tell anyone growing up."

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