Michael Sam hoped to be the first openly gay NFL football player. Now he just wants one more shot at the league.
The defensive end was among 105 players who showed up for the inaugural veteran combine, which gave older free agents a chance to show off their skills in the hopes that someone would take notice.
For Sam, who was too undersized to play his college position of defensive end in the NFL, said he would go to “whoever wants me.”
“If the Rams or Cowboys want me, I’m on the first flight out,” he said.
Sam might have an advantage over some of the others at the veteran combine. At 25-years-old, he still has an entire career ahead of him and is in top shape — even if a bit of a “tweener” who doesn’t fit neatly into a position.
“I’m young and I’m still good,” Sam said. “I don’t have any injuries. I’m going to play.”
Sam is confident in his chances.
“Absolutely, I think my chances are high,” Sam said. “As long as I have that will to play the game and I am healthy, you’ll continue to see me trying to play in this league. I am very confident I will be playing football somewhere.”
Michael Sam may be hedging his NFL bets a bit. Though he has remained committed to breaking into the NFL, he has also branched out into new arenas. As the nation’s most high-profile male gay athlete, he has become an advocate for others and even made a name for himself outside of football. Sam is set to compete on the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars, which would otherwise be a curious selection for a seventh-round draft pick who was a practice squad player last year.
The veteran combine may be a difficult way to enter the league. There has been some skepticism over whether the combine will produce many opportunities. Some of the skills, including the 40-yard dash, are tilted heavily toward younger players and can only serve to highlight the decline of older pros.
Michael Bush found this out the hard way. The free agent running back just ran a 4.91 40-yard dash, which even Bush conceded would cement his exit from the league.
Michael Bush when he learned he ran a 4.91 40 at the Veteran Combine: ‘You gotta be ****ing me. 4.91? There you go, there goes my career.’
— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) March 22, 2015
Though Michael Sam has his heart set on making an NFL team, he said he is open to all opportunities. When asked if he would consider playing in Canada, Sam replied, “If that’s the opportunity, I’ll take it. I’m a fighter and I’m going to keep fighting.”
[Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images]