Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, may be on the verge of a second chance at taking the field. A new report has the Dallas Cowboys on the verge of bringing Sam onto their squad, and Sam could well be a Cowboy by the end of the week.
The news broke Tuesday afternoon with a tweet and subsequent writeup from ESPN‘s Adam Schefter. Citing Cowboys team sources, Schefter said that the team plans to bring Sam in for a physical on Wednesday. Should Sam’s physical turn up no issues, Michael could be signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad.
Cowboys plan to bring Michael Sam to Dallas for a physical Wednesday, per team source. If all goes well, Sam will be a Cowboy.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 2, 2014
Sam made history earlier this year when the St. Louis Rams took him as the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL. An underwhelming performance at the NFL’s Scouting Combine had some observers skeptical of Sam’s likelihood of actually making the Rams’ squad, and the Rams validated those concerns last week when they cut Sam from the roster. Some held out hope that Sam would still be able to make the Rams’ practice squad, but Saturday brought news that Sam had not made the 10-man practice squad.
In the run-up to the draft, Sam drew no small amount of attention due to his unique status as an “out” athlete. Sam drew a good deal of criticism, as well, owing to his abortive attempt at launching a reality show following his quest to enter the NFL. Once news of the proposed series broke, though, Sam backed out of the television agreement, citing concerns that it could prove a distraction.
Some have speculated that Sam’s presence could prove a distraction in a sport that is known for prizing team cohesion. Others believe that Sam will fit in fine, and that the only distraction comes from the seemingly ceaseless media focus on Sam’s sexuality.
ESPN seemed to push the gay angle to an extreme degree last week when the sports entertainment network aired a report on Sam’s showering habits. That report brought jeers from fans and activists, who said that the network had taken its fascination with Sam’s sexuality too far.
Sam is, without a doubt, the most scrutinized player ever taken with the 249th overall pick, but he raised some observers’ hopes with his performance in the NFL preseason. In three preseason games, Sam came up with 11 tackles and three sacks, with six of those tackles coming in the final preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.
As Sam tries to make the Cowboys practice squad, all eyes will no doubt be on him all over again. There is one spot left on the roster, according to sources, and Sam’s place reportedly is not guaranteed.
[Lead image via FiveThirtyEight.]