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Michael Sam returns to Canada to restart football career with Montreal Alouettes

Newly signed Montreal Alouettes defensive end Michael Sam tosses a ball while posing at a press conference in Montreal on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.
Newly signed Montreal Alouettes defensive end Michael Sam tosses a ball while posing at a press conference in Montreal on Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Ryan Remiorz, The Canadian Press (via AP)

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Higgins said Sam asked for and received permission to address his teammates on Sunday; the coaches left the room to the players, and Sam spoke for less than a minute. Higgins said applause could be heard through the closed door.

“He told us he’s all-in,” center Luc Brodeur-Jourdain said. “He missed the game for the short period of time he was away.”

Linebacker Kyries Hebert said Sam “got a pretty good welcome,” and predicted that he would have no trouble earning back his teammates’ trust. Higgins said Sam is trying to fit in with the Alouettes, but the attention he gets as a gay rights pioneer makes that difficult.

“He didn’t want to be standing here until he does something,” Higgins said. “Being put in the limelight doesn’t help him with any of his teammates. He hasn’t played one down in the CFL and he gets more attention than any one of his teammates. That bothers him.”

Among the adjustments for Sam are different rules in the CFL, which has a 110-yard field, three downs instead of four and offensive formations with more movement than in the NFL and American colleges.

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“He still has to learn how to play the CFL game,” Brodeur-Jourdain said. “All we want to do as teammates is compete against him in practice so we can make him better as a player. Our general manager thinks he has potential. He’s part of the club. Let’s make him better.”

Sam signed autographs and posed for pictures after practice with the handful of fans waiting by the field. Among them was Mike Raimondo, who draped an Alouettes jersey with Sam’s name carefully over his arm.

“I’m new to CFL football. I’m a big hockey fan, but I’m a big Michael Sam fan,” Raimondo said. “When he signed here, I ordered the jersey right away.

“When he left, I had a heart attack.”

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