What happened to Michael Sam? NFL's first openly gay player congratulates Carl Nassib on social media

South Dakota State v Missouri
South Dakota State v Missouri

Before Carl Nassib, there was Michael Sam. While Nassib is the only openly gay player in the NFL, Michael Sam was the first. He took the world by storm and became one of the more polarizing rookies from the 2014 draft class.

All eyes were on Sam until he unceremoniously left the NFL. He was a forgotten figure until Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay via Instagram and Sam congratulated him. The question now rises of whatever happened to Michael Sam.

Michael Sam's History In Football

Michael Sam was a defensive end for the Missouri Tigers, where he was a unanimous All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2013. In four years, Sam racked up 123 tackles, 21 sacks, six forced fumbles and two interceptions. Sam came out to his college teammates as a gay man and got their full support.

Before the 2014 NFL draft, Michael Sam was projected to be a third or fourth-round pick. He had a poor outing at the combine and was being labeled as too small or too slow. He was picked 249th overall in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. Michael Sam officially became the first openly gay player to be drafted.

Michael Sam's rookie jersey was the second best-selling behind Johnny Manziel. He won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPY Awards, was one of GQ's Men of the Year, and was a finalist for SI's Sportsman of the Year.

Michael Sam CFL Montreal Alouettes
Michael Sam CFL Montreal Alouettes

Head coach Jeff Fisher spoke to the press during the preseason and stated he thought Sam could play in the league. Shortly after, Sam was part of the final roster cuts. The NFL wanted to keep Sam in the limelight and asked around the league for a team to take a chance on him. The Dallas Cowboys placed him on the practice squad but he was waived in October.

After appearing at the NFL Veteran Combine, Michael Sam agreed to a two-year deal with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, becoming their first openly gay player. Sam played one game, recorded zero tackles, and left the team to deal with his mental health. On August 14th, 2015, Michael Sam retired to focus on his health.

Where is Michael Sam Now?

Michael Sam left football behind to deal with depression. Since then, he has seemed to find his calling as a speaker, focusing mainly on the LGBTQ community and youth. He's living a rather normal life now and has been an advocate against discrimination.

He's done several interviews and is vocal in his opinion that he got a "raw deal" from the NFL and that teams found him to be a distraction rather than an asset. He also believes that coming out was the reason he fell so far in the draft.

Before Carl Nassib took to social media to make his life announcement, no one had really heard from Michael Sam. He congratulated Nassib for owning his truth and joined the NFL in supporting him.

Michael Sam's football career is not over. He was interested in joining the XFL back in 2020. It's unknown if he will still try for the XFL in 2022. It's sad to say that Michael Sam will be looked at as a footnote rather than a pioneer.

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Edited by Jay Lokegaonkar
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