EARTH CITY, MO (KTVI) – The Rams made Michael Sam the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, but they apparently won’t be the first to put him on a roster. After cutting Sam Saturday, the team announced their practice squad Monday, and Sam was not on the list.
The fact Sam didn’t make the Rams practice squad is not a big surprise to those watching closely. The Rams have one of the deepest defensive lines in football, and have more players at Sam’s position than most clubs.
“They’re carrying 9 defensive linemen, which is a lot. Some teams will carry only seven into the regular season,” Rams beat writer Jim Thomas said.
What does surprise Thomas and many others is the fact that not a single NFL team has called Sam about joining them.
“It wasn’t’ that Michael Sam was bad. Michael Sam was good,” Thomas said. “On almost any other Roster you would think Michael Sam probably makes the roster or at least the practice squad. I am surprised as we sit here now that nobody has picked the guy up on the practice squad.”
Thomas says predictions about distractions due to Sam’s sexuality never came in St. Louis, but he believes a single national report may be causing him problems as other teams decide whether or not to pick him up.
“I’ve got to tell you,” Thomas said, “I don’ think the ESPN report of his showering habits did him any favors. All it takes is one report like that whether it be TV, print, online or whatever and it could raise a whole big distraction. That was a national story for 2 or 3 days.”
Rams coach Jeff Fisher was involved in making the final call on Sam in St. Louis and met with him Sunday afternoon, 24 hours after the former SEC player of the year was honored at Mizzou’s home opener.
“We had a real good visit yesterday,” Fisher said. “He came back from Mizzou and we had a little heart to heart there like I do with all the players. He’s very positive right now. He appreciates his opportunity, and he’s just waiting on the next door to open. “
Many St. Louis fans had hoped that door would open here.
“I think he should have a chance,” Derrick Merriweather said on his way into the Cardinals game Monday. “He can play the game. The only reason he was drafted in the seventh round is what he came out with. I think he would have been drafted earlier if not.”
Thomas says it would be nice for Sam to get his chance as just another player.
“It’s unfortunate that this young man can’t just go out and play football because I believe he’s good enough to play in the league.”
Sam’s NFL dream almost certainly doesn’t end here. NFL teams are constantly tweaking their rosters based on injuries and lack of performance by other players.
Also, there is one report out that Sam is being courted by the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>By the way, the <a href="https://twitter.com/MTLAlouettes">@MTLAlouettes</a> of the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CFL?src=hash">#CFL</a> own the rights to DE Michael Sam. They have reached out to him, no word yet though.</p>— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) <a href="https://twitter.com/RapSheet/statuses/506529928657911808">September 1, 2014</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Meanwhile criticism is already emerging regarding the silence from other NFL teams toward Michael Sam.