Michael Sam: Being gay isn’t reason why NFL teams won’t sign me
Michael Sam is an unemployed, twice-cut defensive end training for the upcoming NFL veterans combine, hoping for one more shot at making it as a pro. Just like hundreds of other repeatedly cut, just-on-the-cusp veterans looking for one more chance.
Of course, one aspect of Sam’s journey to the NFL makes him far different from those other NFL hopefuls most people have never heard of. Becoming the first openly gay man drafted into the NFL keeps you relevant far beyond the playing field.
But in an exclusive first-person essay in Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback on Wednesday, Sam made one thing clear:
Sam wrote the piece, and did a sit-down interview with MMQB’s Robert Klemko, while in McKinney, Texas, where he is training for the upcoming combine for unsigned veterans, taking place March 22 at the Arizona Cardinals training facility in Phoenix.
About 100 veterans are expected to take part, though participants are selected through an application process and there is no guarantee Sam will be selected. It was reported earlier this month that Sam did apply for the combine.
Sam came out in February of last year, and immediately found himself perhaps the world’s most famous football player — pro or college. In May, he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round. Despite collecting three sacks in the preseason (a preseason filled with heavy media coverage and reports of potential reality TV shows during camp), Sam was cut in the final round of preseason cuts. He would later sign on to the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad, but would be cut from there, as well, in October.
Despite the rejections, Sam said in the MMQB piece that he harbors no ill will toward either club, and that the adversities of his rookie season have only made him more determined to make in the NFL.
Sam also explained that throughout his time in NFL locker rooms, "there was never any awkwardness about who I was, and I guess anyone who met me with preconceptions of who I was must have had them broken down once we met face-to-face." He pointed to one incident in particular in St. Louis, when defensive end Chris Long tweeted after ESPN aired a report that referenced Sam’s shower habits.
Dear ESPN, Everyone but you is over it.
— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) August 26, 2014