In the run-up to the 2014 NFL Draft, former Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Michael Sam made a courageous revelation to the media and to the country as a whole.
Before the NFL Scouting Combine last year, Sam announced that he was gay. The defensive back was ultimately selected with the St. Louis Rams’ seventh-round draft pick (249th overall) last May.
Despite a preseason wherein Sam recorded 11 tackles and three quarterback sacks, he failed to make the regular season 53-man roster. Just days before the NFL regular season began last September, the Dallas Cowboys acquired Sam, signing him to their practice squad.
Last October, Sam was waived by the Cowboys organization after a month and a half.
For months, Sam has been waiting to get back in the game in any form. Today, he’s back in football.
The Montreal Alouettes have signed Michael Sam to a one-year contract with the team, a deal which includes a vesting option for an additional season in 2016.
Sam comes to Montreal after having a great college career at Missouri, where he recorded 123 tackles (36 for loss), 21 sacks, and two interceptions.
His best season of his collegiate career came in 2013, his senior year. That season, Sam split the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Award with Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley, currently with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.
In the 2013 season, Sam had 11.5 sacks (the conference leader in said category), 21 tackles, and one forced fumble (which he took back for a touchdown in the 2014 Cotton Bowl Classic, a 41-31 Tigers win, only the second Missouri Cotton Bowl victory in team history.)
Alouettes General Manager Jim Popp welcomed Sam to the team warmly on Friday, saying “With the signing of Michael Sam, we have become a better organization today. Not only have we added an outstanding football player, we have added even a better person that brings dignity, character, and heart to our team.”
Sam welcomes the opportunity. When reached for comment on Friday morning, he thanked Popp, Robert Wettenhall, Alouettes owner, and head coach Tom Higgins for taking a flyer on him. He’s eager to get to work.
“I cannot wait to put on the pads, get back on the field and work hard each and every day with my teammates to bring a Grey Cup to the great fans here in Montreal,” Sam said in a statement Friday morning.
New CFL Commissioner Jeffery Orridge weighed in on the signing earlier Friday, as well, congratulating the Alouettes organization on bringing Sam to the team, and calling the signing “another indication of how open and progressive the CFL is.”
Personally, I’m very happy for Sam and the Alouettes organization. Michael Sam is a great football player, one who deserves a chance to show everyone what he can do at the professional level. He struck a blow for gay athletes and gay people everywhere. This is a man who deserves our respect and admiration.
Best of luck to Michael Sam.