Michael Sam, the first openly-gay football player drafted by an NFL team, was cut by the St. Louis Rams Saturday, but one of the nation’s most prominent gay-rights advocacy groups and the team’s coach predicted the defensive end will start the regular season with another team. Sam reacted on Twitter by thanking the team and vowing, “the journey continues.”
“I want to thank the entire Rams organization and the city of St. Louis for giving me this tremendous opportunity,” Sam said. He came out in February and became the first openly-gay player drafted in NFL history when the Rams picked him in the seventh round.
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Gay-rights groups have seen Sam’s drafting as a milestone in the march towards equality. “America is ready for its first openly gay NFL player, and Sam's strong preseason performance leaves us confident that he'll be wearing an NFL jersey come the regular season kickoff,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the group GLAAD, said in a statement.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher told reporters Saturday the move to cut Sam was a “football decision.” He said Sam’s sexual orientation was not a distraction. “Mike fit in very, very well, he was fun to be around, he was a good teammate,” Fisher said. “I was pulling for him, and it just didn’t work out.”
— Phil Helsel