Former Ravens linebacker and special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo recently told The Baltimore Sun that he believes Sam isn't a great fit for the Ravens' defensive scheme, but expressed confidence that the organization would otherwise be a great fit for Sam.

"It has to be a conducive environment," said Ayanbadejo, a vocal LGBT rights advocate. "If it's not a fit in terms of everything, including football and the organization, then it makes no sense to go there. I look at how progressive the state of Maryland is and the leadership in the Ravens' locker room, but he doesn't really fit the scheme, so I don't think that's where he'll go. [Team president] Dick Cass and John Harbaugh are amazing people, but this has to fit from a football and organizational standpoint."

Sam began the press conference Saturday with an opening statement that drew laughter.

"Good afternoon, my name is Michael Sam,” Sam said. “I play football for the University of Missouri. As you may know, Missouri is 'The 'Show Me State,' and you'd think I'd have shown you guys enough these last couple of weeks. But I'm learning with the media [that] you guys still want more, so ask your questions and I'll answer them the best I can."

Sam told Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and his teammates about his sexuality last August. The team kept it a secret, accepting Sam and going on to win the Cotton Bowl.

"Coach Pinkel really preaches family and stuff like trust and accountability," Missouri offensive tackle Justin Britt said. "It wasn't our place to tell people his story. It was our place to protect his story."

Sam said he simply wants to be accepted as a football player and a person. He discussed his decision to announce his sexual preference during interviews with the New York Times and ESPN.

"I think I did it on my time and my terms," Sam said. "It's out there now."

awilson@baltsun.com

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