Former Ole Miss basketball star Marshall Henderson said Monday that his derogatory tweet about linebacker Michael Sam was meant as a project to gather information for a friend who is deciding whether to tell family and friends about his sexual orientation.

"My stance on gay athletes is irrelevant," Henderson told ESPN by phone. "The whole reason we chose to do this is because my friend is gay. If it was wrong for me to do it, so be it."

Henderson tweeted the following on Monday morning, two days after Sam was taken by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh and final round of the NFL draft:

"Boycotting sportscenter til this michael sam nasty [expletive, expletive] is off .... My brothers are 7 and 11 and saw that!!! #SICKENING"

An hour later, Henderson followed with tweets explaining his rationale for the initial comment.

Henderson told ESPN that his friend, who does not attend Ole Miss, asked him to tweet out something on Sam a couple of weeks ago, but he declined at the time.

However, after watching Sam get drafted and seeing his younger brothers' reaction to the display of affection between Sam and his boyfriend on television, Henderson decided to post the comment on Twitter.

After a flurry of backlash, Henderson sent another tweet less than an hour later saying "Im sorry, but I DO NOT AGREE WHATSOEVER that should be shown to where innocent eyes can see!!!"

"I saw their reactions and thought we've got something brewing here," Henderson said. "I knew I was sticking my neck out there doing it, but I wanted to see how people reacted."

"What better way to get research and feedback than to do it like I did," Henderson added. "Everything I did is a psychologist and educator's dream."