The announcement came at a time when usually only the most diehard fans are paying attention, just a few minutes before the final selection of the final round. But near the end of the seventh round of this particular NFL draft, the 249th pick proved to be one of the most meaningful moments in league history.
American history, too.
NFL director of operations Mike Kensil walked to the podium on the Radio City Music Hall stage Saturday night and with these words signaled the transformative event: "With the 249th pick, the St. Louis Rams select Michael Sam, defensive end, Missouri.''
The handful of fans still at Radio City erupted in cheers, breaking into a chorus of "Mi-chael! Mi-chael!'' Fans gathered at a gay bar in Los Angeles screamed jubilantly before the ESPN cameras. And Sam himself, after an agonizing wait of more than seven hours on Day 3 of the draft as he watched at the home of his San Diego-based agent, finally enjoyed his moment. He was welcomed to the Rams with a phone call, wept as he held hands with his boyfriend and spoke to Rams coach Jeff Fisher.
Sam, who became the first college player to come out on Feb. 9, is the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team.