When former Missouri star Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, was taken in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams, it was deemed as a sign of progression for the league. A new report drastically contradicts that notion.
590 The Fan’s Howard Balzer suggests that the NFL made a deal with the Rams during the draft: Take Sam and avoid being selected for HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series. This report comes a day after the now-Los Angeles Rams were selected to be featured on the 11th season of the all-access look into NFL training camps.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher vehemently denied the report.
“That in itself is absolutely absurd, it’s 100 percent incorrect,” Fisher said during an appearance on the “Mike & Mike” show on ESPN Radio. “I was really taken aback by those comments. It’s insulting, from my standpoint, as it relates to Michael. We had three seventh-round picks. When we drafted Michael he was the best player on the board. Who in their right mind would think that you give up a draft choice to avoid doing something like that?”
The former SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year revealed that he is gay shortly after his prolific career at Mizzou ended.
According to Balzer, the NFL strong-armed the Rams into taking Sam, believing the franchise to be the strongest fit based on its proximity to Missouri’s campus in Columbia, Mo. For drafting Sam, Balzer reports, the league office agreed to allow the Rams not to be the featured teams on “Hard Knocks.”
Fisher told “Mike & Mike” that the claims are unfair to Sam.
“It’s really unfair to Michael. Michael worked so hard,” Fisher said. “It’s really not fair to Michael because of all the hard work he put in.”
Sam was selected in the seventh round with the 249th pick by St. Louis. His tenure in St. Louis didn’t last long however, as the Rams cut Sam on Aug. 31, 2014. Sam has been out of the league after a brief stint on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad.
Given the NFL’s recent history of misconstrued behavior, it isn’t easy to rule out the latest possible scandal.