(CBS) Bears general manager Phil Emery on Monday expressed his respect for former Missouri Tiger and NFL prospect Michael Sam, who is on a path to become the first openly gay player in the NFL after publicly coming out a a day earlier.

Specifically, Emery said Sam will be evaluated solely as a football player by the Bears in the months leading up to May’s NFL Draft.

“Each and every player in the NFL is a unique individual, as we all are in life,” Emery said, according to 670 The Score’s Zach Zaidman. “We all ultimately gain respect in our jobs by how well we perform at our chosen profession.

“I have tremendous respect for (Sam) in the way he conveyed his thoughts and the courage it took to state them publicly.

“It is about (Sam’s) skill set as a football player to add positively to a team’s goals and that’s how he will be evaluated.”

Sam could be a defensive end or outside linebacker, depending on teams view him in their systems. He’s projected by many experts to be a middle-round pick.

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