Updated: 6:00 p.m. CDT
ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams cut Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. Coach Jeff Fisher repeated over and over that it was purely a football decision.
“I will tell you this: I was pulling for Mike,” Fisher said at news conference on Saturday. “I really was, and I don’t say that very often. Mike came in here and did everything we asked him to do.”
The seventh-round pick has been forthright and confident as his progress was watched as closely as any rookie in the league. He has been cheered by athletes and celebrities. In the end, the defensive end couldn’t make a team stocked with pass rushers and lost out to undrafted Ethan Westbrooks, who proved more productive and more versatile.
Rams coach: Michael Sam was no distraction in training camp
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher says he was in Michael Sam’s corner from the start and that having the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team was no distraction at all in training camp.
Fisher says that releasing Sam was purely a football decision.
Fisher believes too much was made of Sam’s orientation and that wherever he lands, it should not be an issue. Continue reading →
Sam still has a chance to get picked up by another team or to make the Rams’ practice squad. Wherever he lands, Fisher said “there will be no challenge, no challenges whatsoever” for the team that signs him.
“He’s not about drawing attention to himself,” Fisher said. “He kept his head down and worked and you can’t ask anything more out of any player for that matter.”
On Twitter, roughly an hour after he was cut, Sam wrote “The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesson I’ve always known. The journey continues.”
He also thanked the Rams and city of St. Louis on Twitter, adding that he looks forward to a long and successful career.
Earlier Saturday, he attended Missouri‘s opener in Columbia, a 1 1/2-hour drive west on I-70 from Rams Park. He was introduced to the crowd in the end zone alongside defensive E.J. Gaines, a sixth-round pick who made the team.
Sam blew a kiss and waved to the crowd, then walked back to the sideline. He posed for a few pictures then started looking at his phone and headed for the locker room.
Article continues belowFisher personally delivered the news to the 20 others released in meetings Friday and Saturday, but Sam learned via cell phone. Fisher plans to meet with Sam on Sunday.
“He said ‘Yes sir,’ and he said, ‘I understand.’ He said, ‘Thanks for the opportunity,’ and I said, ‘Mike, I’m looking forward to visiting with you tomorrow,’ and he goes, ‘I am, too.'”
The Rams selected Sam, the SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, with the 249th overall pick out of 256 overall. After he was picked, he kissed his boyfriend as a national television audience looked on, and arrived brimming with confidence and with a quick retort for anyone who contended he was in the NFL only because he came out.