Michael Sam was released from the Dallas Cowboys in October but tells Oprah Winfrey in a new interview he’s received encouraging words from current players who have his back.

Sam said “very few” gay NFL players have reached out to him to show “gratitude.” He wouldn’t say specifically how many when asked but went onto to say the players told him they “wish they had the courage” to come out.

Sam became the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL back in June but was released from the St. Louis Rams before the season opener. He was signed by the Cowboys shortly after but later released in late October.

GQ Magazine named Michael Sam in its “Man of the Year” issue for 2014. He’s said repeatedly since his release he has the talent to compete in the NFL.

Sam’s full interview with Oprah airs Saturday, December 27.