"If you led the SEC with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for losses?" he said, laughing. "If a gay person did that, I wouldn't call that person weak."
Just last week, he said, he came out to his parents, during a phone call.
"I told my mom and dad last week, and they just pretty much said, 'We knew and we love you and support you,' " he said. "I'm their baby boy. I'm the first to go to college. I'm the first to graduate college. Something like this is just another milestone.
"And I love my hometown. I think when this story breaks, I think they're just going to love me even more for who I am."
Sam understands that his life is about to change forever; he said he is happy and proud to be speaking out at last.
"I'm not afraid to tell the world who I am. I'm Michael Sam: I'm a college graduate. I'm African American, and I'm gay," he said. "I'm comfortable in my skin."
ESPN.com's Darren Rovell contributed to this report.