Michael Sam is “an instant hero in the gay and lesbian community” … so says the brother of NFL commish Roger Goodell, who’s also openly gay.

SOURCES FROM TMZ Sports spoke to Michael Goodell … who says “it’s about time” a top NFL prospect was brave enough to be open about his sexuality.

In fact, Michael compares Sam to Jackie Robinson — saying because of the defensive end’s courage, homosexuality in the NFL “won’t be an issue in 10 to 20 years.”

Michael — who’s very close with his brother — says he hasn’t spoken to Roger about Michael Sam yet … but says he knows, “Roger is fine with this. He’s a good businessman and he’s been around this issue his whole life.”

As for whether he thinks Sam’s announcement will affect his draft stock — Michael says, “I’ve met a lot of the NFL owners through my brother. They’re businessmen, not homophobes.”