Michael Sam is about to enter the NFL which means he's now eligible to actually earn money off his personal brand. As the (likely) first-ever openly-gay player in the NFL, Sam has a pretty popular name these days.
But it's still surprising to see that 300-plus people showed up for an autograph signing for the former Missouri defensive end on Saturday.
And it's even more surprising, as Darren Rovell of ESPN reports, that Sam is a bigger draw than the rest of his Missouri teammates.
"He has outsold them by at least a 2-1 margin," said Ryan Houston, president of the St. Louis Card Company, where Sam had a signing Saturday.
Many of the autograph seekers present were Missouri fans, who said they were "proud" of what Sam stands for.
"We're extremely proud of Michael," Bobby Torgoley, a Missouri alum, told Rovell. "He is a pivotal player in changing the attitudes toward a group that was previously held down."
During the signing, a military veteran named Phil Carroll brought Sam two bracelets with dog tags on them known as "Survival Straps."
On those straps were the words, "Michael, You are loved, You are backed, You are strong, Never change."
"I wanted him to have a constant reminder of who he is and to not be affected by someone else's opinions," Carroll said.