After misses with two NFL teams
By Frederick H. Lowe
Michael Sam, the first openly gay player signed by two National Football League teams before quickly being cut, has found open arms waiting North of the border in the Canadian Football League.
The Montreal Alouettes last week signed Sam to a two-year contract. He is scheduled to meet with reporters at 11 a.m.Tuesday in the Opal Room of the Montreal Airport Marriott.
Sam said, “I am very excited and proud to join the Montreal Alouettes and want to thank team owner Robert Wetenhall, general manager Jim Popp and head coach Tom Higgins for this opportunity. 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 (the CFL’s championship trophy) to great fans in Montreal.”
Sam is 25 years old, 6′ 2″ and weighs 261 pounds.
Popp said Sam’s signing will make the Alouettes a better organization.
Sam who played for the University of Missouri Tigers was 2014’s Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year with 11.5 sacks and 21 tackles for losses. He helped Missouri defeat the Oklahoma State University Cowboys in last year’s Cotton Bowl by a score of 41 to 31.
In 2014, the St. Louis Rams drafted Sam in the fifth round, 249th overall pick. He was photographed passionately kissing his boyfriend, which may have turned off some people.
In four pre-season games with the Rams, Sam collected 11 tackles and four sacks, but his play didn’t impress the Rams who released him. The Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad picked him but also dropped him.
Why was a top prospect like Sam dropped?
Teams considered him too small for a defensive end and too slow for a linebacker. Both teams denied they dropped him because he is gay.
He is not the first African American who had to play in the CFL before getting into the NFL.
Warren Moon, quarterback for the University of Washington, wasn’t deemed a person to take snaps over center by NFL scouts, although he had been named Most Valuable Player in the 2008 Rose Bowl.
Moon played for Edmonton Eskimos from 1978 to 1983. He led the team to five consecutive Grey Cup Championships.
Moon later joined the NFL and was named the most-prolific passer in pro-football history. (His record has since been surpassed.) Moon is now a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
It is impossible to say if Sam will have a career as successful as Moon’s, but now Sam has an opportunity to play. Like the Rolling Stones said, “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometime you get what you need.”
He is scheduled to join the team’s rookies on Wednesday at Bishop University in Sherbrook, Quebec. The team’s first pre-season game is June 13th against the Ottawa Red Blacks.