Michael Sam is a famous name in NFL circles, and he got back in the news earlier this year as Carl Nassib became the first openly gay active player in the league. Sam is once again in the spotlight, but not for positive reasons — and it's not even his fault.
As the Las Vegas Raiders part ways with Jon Gruden after his disturbing e-mails were made public by The New York Times, Sam's name returned to the news with a specific comment made by Gruden about him.
What did Jon Gruden say about Michael Sam?
Gruden resigned following a New York Times report that revealed shocking emails he exchanged with Bruce Allen, the former president of the Washington Football Team. The emails included racist tropes, misogynistic comments and homophobic slurs directed at Michael Sam and others, among other distasteful assertions.
Gruden said in an e-mail to Allen that Goodell should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, the former Rams coach, to draft "queers," referring to Michael Sam, who the Los Angeles Rams picked in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The former Raiders head coach also casually used misogynistic and homophobic language over seven years, calling Roger Goodell a "f****t" and a "clueless p***y" for example.
Coincidentally or not, Gruden's Raiders are home to Carl Nassib, the first openly gay player active in the NFL. Nassib is having a fantastic season, and to see his (now former) coach using homophobic slurs after such an act of courage must have been really tough for the defender to endure.
Michael Sam's career
As it turns out, Sam's college career was so good that he never really needed to be drafted only because of his sexual orientation.
Michael Sam was a unanimous All-American in the 2013 season, while he was also indicated for the All-SEC team and, most notably, winning the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award.
All these credentials in his last year in college football made him a possible third-round pick, but his numbers at the NFL Scouting Combine disappointed the scouts, even though he had 11.5 sacks in his senior season at Missouri. Sam publicly came out as gay after the 2013 season with the Tigers.
Sam fell until the seventh round of the draft, when the Rams, led by Jeff Fisher, drafted him. But he was considered too small to play as a defensive end. He was waived in the final roster cuts for the 2014 season and never played a down in the NFL.
Sam also had a practice squad stint with the Dallas Cowboys, which also bore no fruit. The most wholesome moment of the entire 2014 NFL Draft was the defensive end crying and kissing his boyfriend after the Rams selected him in the draft.
Sam was also a competitor in the 20th season of Dancing With the Stars, but he was eliminated in the fourth week of the competition.