HITCHCOCK, Texas -- Galveston’s Mike Evans wept when he learned he’d been drafted in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Hitchcock’s Michael Sam cried too when the St. Louis Rams called, making him one of the last players selected in the draft. But then Sam embraced his boyfriend, and some critics complained.
But Auntie Geraldine Sam was home in La Marque rejoicing.
“That was really emotional for me to. I was crying with him,” she said as she watched on television.
Michael Sam’s aunt learned only months ago that he was gay and has supported him ever since, especially now as the first openly gay player in the NFL.
“And I don’t know why a big deal is being made out of it. I mean that’s his significant other,” she said. “If he loves him that’s all that matters. What we need is more love in the world anyway.”
A big deal was made by another player. Don Jones of the Miami Dolphins who has since been fined and suspended for tweeting “OMG” and “Horrible” after seeing Michael Sam kiss his boyfriend.
“I tell them to get a life,” Sam’s aunt responded.
But at Hitchcock High School Sam’s former coaches say they’re also celebrating the fact he is the first player from Hitchcock ever drafted into the NFL.
“Especially here with the coaching staff and people I speak to in the community, it’s pretty much all about football and I think that’s the way it ought to be and we’re pretty proud of him as a football player,” said Hitchcock football team defensive coordinator Morris Tuck.
“I think that people are gonna see that the guy can play the game and play well at a high level.”
Tuck says Sam visited Hitchcock High just a few weeks ago and met with the current football players, talking with them about leadership and being better students and pursuing their goals and dreams. Sam is the seventh of eight children. He witnessed one brother’s death from a gunshot wound. An older brother has been missing since 1998. A sister born before him died as an infant. Two of his brothers have been in and out of prison.
“And for him to be where he is now and to come through all of that and still play at a high level and have others see his potential is really a great thing for us,” said Tuck.
Meanwhile Auntie Geraldine says her family will continue to support Michael Sam, and like her nephew has said publicly, she thinks he should have been drafted higher.
“I expected him to go at least in the 2nd or 3rd round because of how good he is,” she said of the SEC co-defensive player of the year.
And she’s already ordering St. Louis Rams hats, jerseys and other gear to support her new favorite team, a team she has no reservations will sign Sam to the team.
“Auntie’s positive. Auntie’s said it. And I know that (Rams Coach) Jeff Fisher is watching. I know that he’s gonna make the team. You heard it from me first.”