One small step for Sam

One giant leap for professional football

Derek Baker

They say history is being made every day, and Defensive End Michael Sam has been on a roll making history twice this year.

“I want to thank the entire Rams organization and the city of St. Louis for giving me this tremendous opportunity and allowing me to show I can play at this level,” Sam tweeted, before being signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.

Sam was the first player to publicly come out as gay and then enter the NFL draft. A few months later, he became the first openly gay football player selected in the draft.

The St. Louis Rams drafted SEC (Southeastern conference) defensive player of the year in the seventh round, 249th overall.

Sam’s story has captured the nation. In a statement, President Obama states that he “congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our nation’s journey.” When it came to jersey sales, Sam’s St. Louis Rams jersey was the second in rookie jersey sales behind Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manzel.

In preseason, Sam was very productive. In his four preseason games, Sam had 11 tackles and three sacks, one of which came against SEC rival Johnny Manzel. However, Sam did not make the 53 man roster and was released this past August.

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher stated, “Mike's got ability. Mike played well . . . He has the ability to play someplace. It's gotta be the right place . . . He's a much better player now than he was when he got here."

With a statement like that, one can’t help but wonder if Sam didn’t make a roster spot because of his life style choices.

I highly doubt it. This is the 21st century. Players in other sports like Jason Collins, Sheryl Swoopes, Gareth Thomas and Greg Louganis play sports at a high level and should not be overlooked because of their sexuality. In a sport like football where the openly gay players entering the league is a new situation, what Michael Sam did paved the way for future players in his sport. It took a lot of guts to do what he did, and you can’t help but root for a guy like him.

Derek is senior studying business sport management.