The decision of NFL draft prospect Michael Sam to come out as gay has been branded "selfish" by controversial US radio host Michael Brown.
Brown said the 24-year old put his desire to be "out and proud" above the team and the timing of his decision could hurt his career ahead of the NFL draft in May, which could see him become the first openly gay player in America's most popular sport.
"Looked at from another angle, it was more of a selfish act, and not only in the sense that Sam is suddenly a national celebrity," Brown wrote on the conservative website Townhall.
"Sam has now put his own desires - wanting to be out and proud- above the team, saying to everyone else, 'Whether you're uncomfortable or not, and whether this helps the team's synergy or not, this is who I am'."
Brown claimed revealing his sexuality could damage his team's "synergy", assuming he is drafted into an NFL franchise, and would make other players feel uncomfortable "walking around naked" in a locker room next to a gay man.
"Certainly, any player who admitted to being uncomfortable in the locker room with Michael Sam would be branded homophobic, but can a male athlete in the prime of physical life be faulted if he feels uncomfortable walking around naked in the presence of another gay athlete?
"And since NFL players are hardly known for their sexual purity - with many notable exceptions - is it homophobic to think that Sam's hormones might be raging for men the way the other players' hormones rage for women?," he added.
Watch below: Michael Sam on coming out
Brown criticised supporters for "applauding" his decision to publicly reveal his sexuality in an interview with ESPN's Outside the Lines and The New York Times on Sunday.
"All the hoopla surrounding the announcement is bizarre. After all, what Sam has declared is, 'I'm attracted to other men,' and for this, he has become a national hero. This is something to be celebrated? Announcing you are same-sex attracted is a major media event?"
The defensive lineman has won praise from First Lady Michelle Obama, who described him as "an inspiration to us all" on Twitter. Former NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders also tweeted his support for the player.
Former Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said Sam has "taught a lot of people here first-hand that it doesn't matter what your background is, or your personal orientation, we're all on the same team and we all support each other".
The NFL also welcomed his decision to come out saying: "We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."
Texas-born Sam said he kept his sexuality a secret growing up because he was "uncertain" about his sexual preference. He told former coach and teammates at the University of Missouri last summer, where he played for the Mizzou Tigers, and dated a fellow athlete.
"I came to tell the world I'm an openly gay man," he told Outside the Lines. "If I work hard, if I make plays, that's all that should matter."
"I probably may be the first but I won't be the last. And I think only good things will come from this."
However, eight anonymous sources, including assistant coaches, former managers and scouts, told Sports Illustrated magazine, his NFL draft outlook looks bleak.
Some of them suggested football is not ready ready to sign on a gay player citing a chemical "imbalance" in the locker room where using the word "gay" as an insult is acceptable.
Another source claimed it "wasn't a smart move" and called his sexual preference a "distraction".