If this football thing doesn’t work out for Michael Sam, at least he has a fallback plan in place.
Mario Lopez, watch your back.
According to multiple reports Monday, Sam, the first openly gay man selected in the NFL Draft, will compete on the upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars" — the show’s 20th season, set to premiere next month.
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Hollywoodlife.com confirmed TMZ’s earlier report that Sam would be taking part in the show, and added that other contestants on the hit ABC show will include Rumer Wills, an actress and the oldest daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore; Chris Soules, a former "Bachelor"; actress Willow Shields; LMFAO front man Redfoo, and "a person related to the Kennedys."
If true, Sam’s participation in the show does put into question his future in the NFL, even for next season. Sam, a defensive end out of Missouri who was taken by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2014 draft, is currently a free agent. He was cut by St. Louis in the final cuts of the preseason, then signed for a brief time to the Cowboys practice squad until Dallas released him, as well. He has yet to play a down in a regular-season NFL game.
In a first-person story for Sports Illustrated last week, Sam said he was training vigorously for the upcoming NFL veterans combine, writing "Through all the ups and downs, though, I’ve remained focused on getting back on an NFL roster." The potential problem with that? The combine is scheduled for March 22, a week after DWTS premieres.
The show has become a haven for athletes — both current and former — looking to carve out a career in entertainment. NFL Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith are perhaps the most well-known athletes to compete, Rice finishing runner-up in Season 2 and Smith winning Season 3. In the final, Smith took down Lopez, who parlayed his success on the show into a booming career as a game and tabloid TV show host, as well as radio DJ.
Other athletes to win the competition are Olympic champion speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno (Season 4), IndyCar star Helio Castroneves (Season 5), figure skating Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi (Season 6), Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson (Season 8), Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward (Season 12), former Packers receiver Donald Driver (Season 14), and 2014 Olympic champion ice dancer Meryl Davis (Season 18).