After drawing mostly positive reviews for his pro-day performance, Michael Sam capped off the week with his first public autograph signing, which apparently was another success for the former Missouri defensive end.
More than 300 people showed up Saturday, according to ESPN.com, for an autograph from Sam, the first openly gay NFL draft prospect. Sam more than doubled the business his draft-eligible former teammates did at the same location -- a mall about 100 miles east of Missouri's campus -- earlier this month, Ryan Houston, president of the St. Louis Card Company shop that hosted the mall signing, told ESPN.
"He has outsold them by at least a 2-1 margin," Houston said, per the report.
The charge for Sam to autograph mini-helmets and photos was reportedly $30; the charge was $35 for a magazine autograph. He's free to profit off his name without potentially violating NCAA bylaws now that he has moved on to the pros.
ESPN reported military veteran Phil Carroll, who said he served in Afghanistan in 2008, gave Sam bracelets called Survival Straps, which included a dog tag with the inscription "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, according to the report.
The turnout at the signing is another indication of the appreciation Missouri fans have for Sam, who has made it clear that the feeling is mutual -- he thanked those associated with the school for their acceptance in a letter published Thursday, the day of Missouri's pro day.
Sam, who didn't speak to reporters at the pro day or the autograph signing, is considered a potential late-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but seemed to help himself with his pro day showing after failing to show the athleticism teams look for in a projected pass-rush specialist at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. There were some suggestions that he might not be drafted after his combine performance, but NFL Media's Charles Davis said there's "no question" Sam will be picked after improving on his combine numbers at his pro day.