First Openly Gay NFL Draftee Michael Sam May Not Make the Team

Rams defensive end Michael Sam, who became the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, is having a strong preseason, but may not make the St. Louis roster.

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Michael Sam, who became the first openly gay football player to be drafted by an NFL team, has made waves in just three preseason games. But on a surprisingly deep St. Louis roster, Sam's spot is hardly guaranteed.

For those who are fans of the Missouri standout, as Tyson Langland points out, there has been a lot to celebrate:

Heading into the preseason finale, Sam has tallied three quarterback sacks, four quarterback hits and five combined tackles. Even though those numbers have come against second- and third-string offensive linemen, they are impressive nonetheless. 

On Saturday, Sam not only had two sacks against the Cleveland Browns much ballyhooed first-round pick Johnny Manziel, but Sam also suavely incorporated Johnny Football's "money" sign into his celebration.

But as NFL teams prepare to make major roster cuts as the season draws nigh, the scope of Sam's history-making may be limited for now. As the Daily News reports, the Rams happen to have a surplus of talent at Sam's position:

“He’s no different than any other late-round pick or college free agent that we have. He’s just trying to make this team,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said in his office the other day. “We have a reality that we can only keep so many players at that position. Is he better than that fourth or fifth defensive end? Right now, I can’t answer that.”

With teams cutting their rosters from 90 players to 75 on Tuesday and selecting their final 53 players this weekend, Sam has tried to present himself not only as a defensive presence, but also a factotum of sorts. In addition to defensive line, Sam has played a few kickoffs for the Rams special teams squad, a rarity for a defensive end.

While Sam is quite naturally a sentimental favorite for many, it would undermine the meaning of his barrier-breaking were he to be chosen for the team because of his biography rather than regardless of it. Nevertheless, should Sam not ultimately make the roster, it does seems likely that he will find a place on a practice squad somewhere.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.