Oprah Acquires Rights to Make Documentary for First Openly Gay NFL Player Michael Sam

University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam runs through drills during the 2014 NFL Combine in Indianapolis
University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam runs through drills during the 2014 NFL Combine in Indianapolis

After negotiations of roughly two months, the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) has announced that it has purchased the rights to make a documentary on Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be taken in the NFL Draft.

OWN released a news release in their official website stating that a new multi-part documentary series will follow the life of Sam, former with the St. Louis Rams in the National Football League (NFL). Sam played for the Missouri Tigers in the NCAA and was an All-American defensive end during his college stint.

He revealed his sexuality after the 2013-2014 college season and was the first openly gay player to declare for the NBA draft. He made history again when the Rams selected him in the 7th round of the draft last Saturday.

The series, projected to be have six-to-eight parts have a working title of "The Untitled Michael Sam Project” and will be handled by Emmy-winning producer Craig Piligian of Pilgrim Studios and Emmy-nominated filmmaker Amy Rice.

“This special documentary series will feature a deeply personal, up-close look at the remarkable man at the center of this groundbreaking moment in professional sports, as the All-American defensive end and SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year enters the competitive world of professional football. Cameras will follow Sam as he works to earn his spot on the St. Louis Rams all while under the intense scrutiny of being the first openly gay player in the NFL,” according to the press release.

Winfrey and Sam were excited and proud about the new project.

“We are honored that Michael is trusting us with his private journey in this moment that has not only made history but will shape it forever,” said Winfrey. “I am proud of the focus on authentic storytelling in our new documentary series format. The next real-life story we follow in ‘The Untitled Michael Sam Project’ promises to spark valuable, important discussion on life in America today. Acceptance and illumination start here.”

 “Like every player out there working to make a team right now, my focus is on playing football to the very best of my ability,” said Sam. "I am determined. And if seeing my story helps somebody else accept who they are and to go for their dreams too, that’s great. I am thankful to Oprah for her support and excited to work together.”

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