Michael Sam’s history-making night was sealed with a kiss.
The St. Louis Rams selected Sam in the seventh round of the NFL draft Saturday — making him the first openly gay player to be drafted into the league.
Cameras were rolling as Sam, after learning the news, broke down in tears and planted one on the mouth of his boyfriend.
The unscripted embrace sent social media abuzz and capped a historic night for the NFL.
“Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis,” Sam tweeted afterward. “I’m using every [ounce] of this to achieve greatness!!”
The Rams’ selection of Sam as the 249th overall pick prompted celebrations at gay bars stretching from the city of Angels to the borough of Queens.
“He wasn’t picked because he’s gay; he was picked because he has talent,” said Jordan Willard, 32, who was celebrating Sam’s achievement at the Pride Restaurant Lounge in Forest Hills.
You finally see a gay couple in love, in celebration on a major sports network.
“I think with him coming out and now being drafted as an openly gay player, he’s going to show gay youth it’s okay to be comfortable in your own skin and aspire to what you want to be.”
The NFL’s giant leap forward set off celebrations in the heart of Greenwich Village.
“My phone was blowing up with text messages,” said Gary Shackleford, 29, speaking inside the famed Stonewall Inn.
“I got more texts about the kiss on ESPN than the draft itself. That was big. You finally see a gay couple in love, in celebration on a major sports network. It opened a lot of eyes and a lot of people’s minds.”
“It gives us someone to look up to. He’s an athletic icon. This is huge.”
For most of the day Saturday, Sam’s bid to make NFL history appeared destined to end in heartbreak.
All 32 NFL teams passed on the 2013 Southeast Conference co-defensive player of the year as the draft meandered late into the seventh and final round.
The defensive end’s sexual orientation probably had less impact on his draft disappointment than a poor workout at the annual combine, where scouts assess the upcoming NFL prospects.
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam was considered a possible mid- to late-round pick as a “tweener” — too small for an NFL defensive lineman, too slow for a pro linebacker.
But Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher said he believes Sam has the potential to be a star.
“We drafted a good football player. I’m excited to get him on the practice field and get him going,” said Fisher.
“In a world of diversity that we live in, I’m honored to be a part of this,” he added.
Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins, who this season became the NBA’s first openly gay player, hailed Sam.
“I think it’s a great day for the NFL and for Michael and his family,” Collins said.
Sam downplayed the attention in a Sports Illustrated interview published three months ago: “People — the media, of course — are going to make a big deal out of it … I have a job to do. My job is to try and play in the NFL. Nothing else.”
Sam, 24, went public with his sexuality in February after completing his senior year. His team went 12-2 and won the Cotton Bowl, and he was named a first-team All-American.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation urged fans via its website to “offer a collective cheer” for Sam.
Backers of teams from the New England Patriots to the Baltimore Ravens to the Chicago Bears urged Sam’s selection as their teams went on the clock Saturday at Radio City Music Hall.
“Only one other time have (I) watched the clock with this much anticipation,” tweeted Wade Davis, a former NFL cornerback who came out of the closet after his career ended.
After the Rams chose Sam, Davis took to Twitter to express his delight.
“@STLouisRams are Americas new fave team!” he tweeted.