One of the biggest changes during his career, Bragman said, is the attitude of young Americans.
"This younger generation — the 'Will and Grace' generation — is comfortable about having gay friends," he said. "Kids are coming out in junior high, high school."
Bragman offers advice for athletes considering coming out:
—Break the news before anyone else does, and don't feel obligated to repeat your story. Choose wisely how you tell it and whom you tell it to, because the first stories will define the narrative.
—Anticipate tough questions and answer them in a truthful yet consistent, controlled way.
—Define yourself in well-rounded terms, to make clear that being gay is only one facet of who you are.
—Get back to work.
In a column on his LinkedIn page, Bragman said it was crucial that Sam chose to come out before the NFL draft.
"Had he come out after, he would have faced criticism for not telling the truth," Bragman wrote. "He not only owned his truth, he put it in perspective and got great respect for his integrity along the way."
One of the people enlisted to help advise Sam before his disclosure was Wade Davis, a former NFL Europe player who came out in 2012 — nine years after retiring. Davis is now executive director of the You Can Play Project, which seeks to increase acceptance of gay athletes in sports.
His paramount advice to Sam was to stay focused on football.
"The NFL doesn't want any player who's looking to get famous off of something other than being an athlete," Davis said.
Davis played a major role in Gordon's coming out.
"In my first talk with Derrick, coming out didn't even come up," Davis recalled. "When we eventually started to have that conversation, Derrick was the one who initiated it."