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   Missouri All-American Michael Sam says he is gay, and the defensive end could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL.  Sam told ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports, that he came out to his Mizzou teammates and coaches in August.  

   The 255 pound Sam participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama last month after leading the SEC with 11 1/2 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.  He's projected to be a mid-round NFL draft pick.  

   Sam says: "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."

 

Reaction to Michael Sam saying in interviews that he is gay:

 

"It takes an incredible amount of courage to break ground on a social issue on a national stage. Michael Sam is a young man of tremendous fortitude and confidence. It is these traits that make it possible for him to be among the best on the field and now to have an impact on the world of sport in a very important way. I also applaud the wonderful support given to him by his teammates and the University of Missouri." — Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive.

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"I think a lot of guys in the NFL are going to say they will accept it, but there are a lot of guys who won't. The reality is Michael Sam is going to open himself up to a lot of criticism and a lot of challenges. Those are challenges most gay people have to go through, but when you are dealing with alpha males and some meatheads in an NFL locker room it's amplified. And there are some guys who have strong religious beliefs too, so he's going to be judged. He's going to face some things that are going to be very difficult to overcome." — Former NFL offensive lineman Frank Garcia, now a sports radio show host with WFNZ-AM in Charlotte.
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"Had multiple convos with @MikeSamFootball this year, amazed at his honesty & courage! Once a tiger, ALWAYS a Tiger." — Kansas City Chiefs quarterback and former Missouri star Chase Daniel on Twitter @ChaseDaniel.
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"Very happy for Michael Sam. His courage will inspire millions to live their truth." — MLS player Robbie Rogers, who is gay, on Twitter.
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"I could care less about a man's sexual preference! i care about winning games and being respectful in the locker room!" — Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams on Twitter @DeAngeloRB.
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"We are so proud of Michael for what he has accomplished at Mizzou academically, socially and competitively. This is a young man who earned his degree from MU, was a unanimous All-American on the football field and now he's being a leader in his personal life. He continues to display great character, courage and compassion. We are proud of him on every level." — Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden.
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"Best of luck in the draft @MikeSamFootball. #respect #YouCanPlay @YouCanPlayTeam" — Former NFL player Zak DeOssie on Twitter @zdeossie.
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"There will be some interest early on (and missteps), but by week one, it'll be a non story. The way it should be from that point on." — Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy on Twitter @BMcCarthy32.
 
Monday, 10 February 2014 02:49
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OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson does not have the green light to take a 3-point shot. He has no light.
 
"I heard some guy behind me in the front row telling me to shoot it," said Henderson, who scored 29 points on eight 3-point shots in Saturday's 91-88 win over Missouri. "That's all I need to hear."
 
The Rebels (16-7, 7-3 Southeastern Conference) needed everything Henderson provided — 10 of 18 from the field, 8 of 15 from 3-point range and five assists — to record what Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy admitted, "a game we absolutely had to have. Marshall hits big shots."
 
Ole Miss enhanced their hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid with the win, with home dates remaining against Kentucky and Florida. The Rebels are 27-10 with a .729 winning percentage in SEC play since 2012, trailing only Florida for the league's best mark.
 
The Rebels remained alone in third place in the league standings and won for the third time in four meetings with Missouri (16-7, 4-6) over the past two seasons. The past two wins for the Rebels were turned on the game's final possession.
 
"Huge. Just huge. It's the only time we play them (Missouri) during the regular season," Henderson said. "They're a quality club with a high RPI and we needed it. I was able to get some good looks, but we had big games from everybody today."
 
Jarvis Summers and LaDarius White had 16 points apiece, while Anthony Perez added 11. The Rebels won the rebounding battle, 44-43, including game-high performances of 11 and 10 rebounds from Aaron Jones and Sebastian Saiz, respectively.
 
Despite trailing by as many as 17 points in the first half and 50-35 at halftime, Missouri put on a furious second half rally. Earnest Ross led the Tigers with 24 points, six rebounds and four assists and missed a 28-foot shot at the buzzer that could have forced overtime.
 
Ross was complemented by Jordan Clarkson with 23 points, Jabari Brown with 20 and Ryan Rossburg with 11, all in the second half.
 
"I thought the difference was our post players didn't compete well in the first half and their press bothered us," Missouri coach Frank Haith said.
 
"In the second half, we took better care of the basketball and our effort was there."
 
The Tigers pulled within two points on four occasions, but Henderson responded three times with a 3-point shot or an assist. Missouri's made another late surge to get within 79-78 on a 3-point shot by Brown with 3:18 left.
 
Ole Miss outscored Missouri 6-0 in the following minute, all by Summers, and built a seemingly insurmountable 91-83 lead with 19 seconds remaining. Missouri scrambled within 91-88 and forced a turnover with 0.9 remaining, setting up a final opportunity for Ross.
 
"There were times I felt like we were just blowing them out by the way we were shooting," Henderson said. "Then you'd look up and they were right there. Every game comes down to the wire for us. We embrace hard. We know it's going to be that way."
 
The loss was the third straight for the Tigers, who have lost consecutively to the top three SEC teams — Kentucky, Florida and Ole Miss. Despite the loss, Missouri remains a factor in the title chase with five of the next seven games at home.
 
Ole Miss shot 50 percent (29 of 58) from the field and 48.3 percent (14 of 29) from 3-point range. Missouri shot 47.5 percent (28 of 59) from the field and hit 11 3-point shots, led by Ross with five.
Sunday, 09 February 2014 00:02
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko scored in a shootout to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
 
The crowd chanted "USA! USA! as Oshie skated in on Al Montoya and beat him. Tarasenko then scored, giving the Blues the victory in their final game before the Olympic break.
 
Blues goalie Brian Elliott stopped Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd in the tiebreaker.
 
Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy and Jaden Schwartz scored in regulation for the Blues, 15-0-1 against Central Division rivals. They are 22-5-3 at home and 39-12-6 overall.
 
Mark Scheifele scored twice, and Dustin Byfuglien added a goal for Winnipeg.
 
It was the fourth consecutive overtime game for St. Louis.
 
St. Louis was 0 for 8 on the power play and has failed to score in its last 20 chances.
 
The Blues improved to 3-1 this season against the Jets, winning the last three with each game was decided by a single goal or in a shootout.
 
Schwartz scored on a backhander from the slot to give St. Louis a 3-2 lead 34 seconds into the third period. Schwartz has three goals and three assists in a four-game points streak.
 
Byfuglien tied it on a power play with 6:17 left.
 
St. Louis scored first. Morrow took a drop pass from Tarasenko and snapped a wrist shot from the left circle at 7:39 of the first period.
 
Winnipeg tied it on Scheifele's goal at 12:33. From behind the net, Devin Setoguchi found Scheifele in front of the crease and Scheifele slid it by Elliott.
 
St. Louis regained the lead when Roy scored on off an assist from Morrow with 2:22 left in the period. It was Roy's first goal in 25 games since Dec.12 against Toronto.
 
Scheifele tied it at 2 midway through the second.
 
NOTES: Blues D Jordan Leopold left in the first period and did not return. ... St. Louis D Barret Jackman played in his 700th game. Only Bernie Federko (927), Brian Sutter (779) and Brett Hull (744) have played more games for the Blues than the former No. 1 draft choice. ... The 10 Blues player selected to play in the Winter Olympics were honored in ceremony before the game. Nine Blues are headed to the games. F Vladimir Sobotka will miss playing because of a leg injury. ... The Jets are sending four players to the Olympics ... With the win, coach Ken Hitchcock went past Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman on the Blues' career victories list. Bowman was 110-83-45 with the Blues from 1967 to 1970. The Blues are 111-44-15 under Hitchcock.
Sunday, 09 February 2014 00:01
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- T.J. Oshie scored 3:29 into overtime, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
 
Oshie jammed the puck in from the side of the net as the Blues, who scored a 3-2 shootout win Nov. 21 in Boston, swept the season series.
 
Alexander Steen and Jaden Schwartz also scored for St. Louis, which blew a 2-0 lead in the third period as Boston scored in a span of just over 2 minutes.
 
Boston had won in its last three trips to St. Louis, and this was the first Blues' home win against the Bruins since Oct. 6, 2006, in a shootout. The last regulation win at home against Boston came on Dec. 18, 1999.
 
David Krejci and Brad Marchand scored for the Bruins.
 
Steen gave the Blues a 1-0 lead with his 28th goal when he ripped a slap shot from the top of the right circle to beat Tuukka Rask at 15:48 of the first period. Jaden Schwartz fed the puck to Steen, who has eight points in his last nine games.
 
Schwartz made it 2-0 when he snapped a wrist shot from the left circle at 3:32 of the second period. The shot by Schwartz grazed the left shoulder of Rusk, who was screened by Kevan Miller. It was the 18th goal by Schwartz.
 
St. Louis' Jaroslav Halak stopped 24 shots in the first two periods before allowing two on the first seven shots in the third.
 
Krejci scored for Boston on a wrist shot from the top of the slot at 9:16, and Marchand then scored on a rebound of a shot by Johnny Boychuck at 11:24.
 
The Blues went 0-for-3 on the power play, and are now 0-for-12 in the last three games.
 
Boston is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games, and the Bruins dropped their first on the road in their last six games.
 
NOTES: Hall of Fame inductee and former St. Louis Rams player Aeneas Williams dropped the ceremonial first puck. ... Boston captain Zdeno Chara was not at the game. He has left for the Olympics, where he is to carry Slovakia's flag in the opening ceremonies. Defenseman David Warsofsky took his place in the lineup. ... Blues F Vladimir Sobotak (knee) and F Vladimir Tarasenko (flu) did not play. ... Boston D Adam McQuaid (lower body) did not play. ... Blues F Brenden Morrow played his 900th career game. He is the 47th active player to accomplish the feat.
Thursday, 06 February 2014 23:35
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Rob Loe scored 17 points and Jordair Jett had 10 points and seven assists to help No. 13 Saint Louis top Saint Joseph's 65-49 on Wednesday night for a team-record 15th straight victory.

The Billikens (21-2, 8-0 Atlantic 10) topped 14-game winning streaks set in the 1958-59 and 1993-94 seasons.

The Billikens, who needed overtime to beat George Mason on Saturday, extended their best start in team history and are 8-0 on the road.

Saint Louis last lost Dec. 1 to Wichita State, 70-65.

Ronald Roberts Jr. had 19 points for the Hawks (15-7, 5-3), who missed 14 of 15 3-point attempts.

The Hawks blew a chance midway through the second half to make a big dent in their 15-point deficit when DeAndre Bembry missed three of four free throws during a pivotal stretch. Roberts also missed two from the line, keeping Saint Louis' lead at nine points. The Billikens showed Saint Joseph's how to get it done from the line, making four straight to open a 45-32 lead, and they hit just enough big shots down the stretch to hold off the Hawks.

Hawks coach Phil Martelli basically used a six-man rotation and his tired team didn't have enough lift in those late-game jumpers to mount a serious rally. Mike McCall Jr. and Loe broke the game open with 3s in the final minutes for an 18-point lead, propelling the Billikens into the team record book.

The Hawks had 17 turnovers and only five assists.

Saint Joseph's, which hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 2008, had won 11 of 13 since Dec. 7 to at least start thinking about some kind of postseason play. The Hawks were coming off a 73-68 win over No. 21 UMass and hoped to beat Top 25 teams in consecutive games for the first time since March 1966. That drought will go on.

Saint Louis has worked its way up the rankings in large part to a defense that allows only 59 points per game, tops in the A-10 and eighth nationally. The Billikens led the A-10 in field goal percentage defense (39 percent) and were second in 3-point field goal defense (29 percent).

The tentative Hawks got a taste of what it's like playing against the Billikens: They missed 16 of 22 shots from the field (1 for 6 on 3s) for a miserable 27 percent. That's not good enough to beat even the weakest nonconference team, much less against a program that's won NCAA tournament games in consecutive seasons.

Austin McBroom hit a 3 and drove the lane for an uncontested layup during a 13-1 run late in the first half that sent Saint Louis into the break with a 35-22 lead.

The Billikens might want to stick around Philadelphia - they play Saturday at La Salle.

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Thursday, 06 February 2014 07:32
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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Fast five, Thursday edition: Things you'll want to know about the 2014 Winter Olympics.

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SECURITY: It's foremost on many minds as Olympic competition begins and thousands stream into the Black Sea resort city. The Russian government says it's doing all it can to ensure safety, and on Thursday a deputy prime minister went even further. "We can guarantee the safety of the people as well as any other government hosting a mass event," said Dmitry Kozak.

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TOOTHPASTE: It's the latest item to fall under scrutiny after the U.S. Homeland Security Department warned airlines flying to Russia that terrorists might try to smuggle explosives on board hidden in toothpaste tubes. The threat was passed onto airlines that have direct flights to Russia, including some that originate in the United States, a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press.

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SNOWBOARDING: It begins, but without marquee name Shaun White, the world's most famous snowboarder. He pulled out of slopestyle, a new Olympic event, to concentrate on the halfpipe, where he'll have a chance to win his third straight title next week. After practice slopestyle runs, White said: "The potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympics goals on."

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WORLD LEADERS: It's a record, says the Sochi Olympics' chief organizer: Sixty-five heads of state and government and international organizations will be attending Russia's first Winter Games. Dmitry Chernyshenko says that's more than any other Winter Olympics and three times the number of leaders who attended the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Here's who you won't see, though: President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German President Joachim Gauck.

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OPENING APPROACHES: Friday night's opening ceremony will showcase Russia to the world on its own terms — a storyline intended to impress the many nations in attendance and allow President Vladimir Putin to put forth the message he's been trumpeting for months now: that his country has successfully combined its storied history with modern innovation and is ready for anything. The intended audience is as much Russians as it is the rest of the world.

Thursday, 06 February 2014 07:28
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Missouri had one scoring drought that cost it a chance at beating No. 3 Florida.
 
The Tigers went 4-plus minutes without a point in the second half, a scoreless stretch that proved to be the difference in a 68-58 loss to the Gators on Tuesday night.
 
Jabari Brown led Missouri with 15 points while Jordan Clarkson added 14. But neither came through when the Tigers needed them most.
 
Michael Frazier II got hot in the second half, hitting four 3-pointers. His third one in a 2-minute span put Florida ahead for good, 51-48. Patric Young's driving layup with 4:10 remaining gave the Gators (20-2, 9-0 Southeastern Conference) a 58-48 lead.
 
"They made shots and we didn't. That's pretty much it," Brown said. "I don't know what else to say about it. We got some good looks, but we didn't make the shots."
 
Missouri's 3-point shooting kept the Tigers (16-6, 4-5) in it for much of the game.
 
Missouri made 8 of 21 from behind the arc, but just 4 of 13 in the second half.
 
"We knew it was going to be a slugfest," coach Frank Haith said. "We were OK with that. ... Our game plan was good and we were executing. Then they got going. They got it in the paint, they got to the free-throw line and got aggressive there in the second half, and that was the difference in the game."
 
Frazier finished with 14 points. Scottie Wilbekin had a career-high 19. He was 13 of 16 from the free throw line, most of them down the stretch. Young chipped in 13 points and six rebounds.
 
But Frazier's 3s were the key.
 
"He's one of a kind," Wilbekin said. "There's not too many shooters out there that's better than Frazier."
 
Florida coach Billy Donovan notched his 16th consecutive 20-win season. Only Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski have longer active streaks.
 
Donovan's current team has some issues — shaky free throw shooting and few long-range threats outside Frazier — but the addition of Chris Walker could increase Florida's chances of making another deep run in the NCAA tournament.
 
A forward from Bonifay in Florida's panhandle, Walker sat out 12 games, or 40 percent of the season, because the NCAA determined he "received preferential treatment from five people, including two agents." The NCAA said Walker and people close to him accepted free cellphones and service, airfare, lodging, meals and apparel while he was a prospect.
 
"I was like 16 or 17," Walker said. "I really had no idea about the rules and everything."
 
Walker was ordered to donate the $270 received from the agents to a charity of his choice and serve 80 hours of community service.
 
After failing to qualify academically and spending the fall taking online classes to gain eligibility, Walker joined the team Dec. 14 and has been practicing since. His debut, though, was on hold as the NCAA wrapped up its investigation. He was cleared to play last week, setting up his much-anticipated debut.
 
Walker had four points, two rebounds and two blocked shots in 7 minutes. Both of his baskets came on thunderous dunks in the final 2:07 of the first half. He finished alley-oops from fellow freshman and former AAU teammate Kasey Hill. The second one had the O'Connell Center rocking — but just briefly.
 
Brown hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer a few seconds later, giving Missouri a 28-25 lead.
 
But it didn't last, mostly because Florida started playing inside-out and clamping down on defense.
 
"They're a veteran team. They've played together for a long time," forward Ryan Rosburg said. "They have seniors and that's what you expect. We knew that coming in here. ... And if we wanted to win, we had to make those plays down the stretch and we didn't."
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 00:38
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Kyle Turris scored the deciding goal in the fifth round of the shootout to go with one in regulation, and the Ottawa Senators beat the St. Louis Blues 5-4 on Tuesday night.
 
T.J. Oshie had a goal and an assist and scored to open the shootout for the Blues, who lost at home to an Eastern Conference opponent for the first time in 10 games this season. St. Louis had a season-high 50 shots but squandered a two-goal cushion in the third period and missed two chances to close it out in the shootout.
 
Jason Spezza had his third three-point game of the season and capped a three-goal flurry in a span of 2:35 that gave Ottawa a 4-3 lead midway through the third period. Erik Karlsson had a goal and an assist to give him 53 points, best among NHL defensemen.
 
Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold tied it at 11:08 with his first goal of the season on an odd-angled shot that banged off goalie Robin Lehner.
 
The attendance of 14,758 was more than 4,000 shy of capacity at the Scottrade Center, the crowd held down by a snowstorm that left roadways clogged.
 
The Blues also set a season best with 23 shots in a two-goal second period, seemingly taking control with a 3-1 lead despite coming up empty with more than 2 minutes of a two-man advantage.
 
The puck got lodged in the netting on Oshie's goal that made it 3-2, a score that went unannounced until after Oshie pointed out the puck's location and then the play was reviewed.
 
Ottawa beat Jaroslav Halak for three goals in a span of four shots in the third, with Milan Michalek and Turris scoring. The Senators bounced back from a 2-1 overtime loss at Pittsburgh a night earlier.
 
Besides scoring his first goal in 38 games with St. Louis over two seasons, Leopold also saved one in the second period. Karlsson's shot trickled between Halak's pads and was on the goal line and still sliding when the defenseman swatted it away.
 
The game began with the promise of fisticuffs from the Blues as retribution for an elbow to the head by Ottawa's Zack Smith that was blamed for the concussion that sidelined leading scorer Alexander Steen for 11 games in late December. Rugged Ryan Reaves was picked to take the opening faceoff for the Blues, presumably set to square off with Smith, but both players were whistled for minor unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the opening minute and both teams settled down.
 
Turris tied it on a pass that deflected off the skate of a Blues player at 7:02, and Spezza capitalized when the Blues failed to clear the puck out of the zone and beat Halak with a high drive for his 15th goal of the season for a 4-3 lead.
 
NOTES: Leopold has six points in 22 games this season. ... Ottawa D Chris Phillips (lower body) missed his fifth straight game. ... Blues backup goalie Brian Elliott started for Ottawa in a 5-2 loss the last time the Senators played in St. Louis on Nov. 19, 2010.
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 00:36
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