Michael Sam Loses His Spot

by Dish Staff

Sam was cut from the Rams over the weekend. Eric Edholm examines the situation:

Sam was unclaimed by the other 31 NFL teams and remains a free agent, with no teams offering a practice squad spot — despite those rosters increasing this season from eight to 10 players per team — with nearly every slot around the league believed to be filled. Does this mean Sam’s NFL shot has passed him by? Not necessarily. He had three sacks in the preseason, none of them gifts, and didn’t play poorly otherwise. Sam put some decent tape out there to be considered. But he is what he is: a left defensive end who likely can’t hold up for three downs in the NFL and has little to no special teams value. Still, there are teams that value pass-rush specialists, and it’s surprising that he hasn’t been brought in, even for a look.

Michelle Garcia somewhat blames bigotry:

Did the Rams cut Michael Sam out of sheer homophobia? I doubt it. But it was homophobic reasons that got him to such a precarious position in the first place.

While the Rams were able to at least push this dream of having an out player a little further, and he was given a platform to show the entire league that he has potential for the pros, at the end of the day, the Rams did not have any use for him — they already had a nearly-full slate of defensive linemen, minus the one spot that undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks now has. And when 31 other teams had the chance to pick Sam up, it seems none of them needed him (and according to Outsportsat least six teams could probably use his talents right now).

Update from a reader along those lines:

I’ve been an avid football fan for years and I’m also very sympathetic to Michael Sam. I can say with a fairly high degree of certainty that he wasn’t cut because of homophobia. Furthermore, I don’t think his personal situation had much of an impact on his status.

Michael Sam’s biggest problem is that he is best-suited to a 4-3 defensive scheme. Over half the teams in the NFL rely on a 3-4 defense, where Sam really doesn’t have the skill set to perform well. Furthermore, he does not excel in special teams. Players who aren’t stars and aren’t sure-fire starters need to also perform well in special team play. Very few teams can afford the luxury of putting a guy on their roster who doesn’t fit their defensive scheme and who doesn’t play special teams. I suspect when teams start to suffer injuries and start needing bodies on their rosters, then you’ll see Sam picked up by another team.

Another sports fan from the inbox:

This is most keyed-into-the-NFL reality reaction I’ve seen to the Michael Sam story. The writer, Rick Telander, was in an NFL camp after his college days at NU and got cut.  He knows whereof he writes.

Cyd Zeigler is confident that the Rams’ cutting of Sam was “just a hiccup”:

Many in the LGBT community are lashing out at the NFL today, claiming homophobia. It’s understandable. Gay men have been told for decades they’re not good enough to play football, they’re not welcome in the locker rooms. Some of those messages have even reverberated in 2014. While the Rams’ decision wasn’t based on homophobia, it’s hard not to afford gay men a little foot-stomping at this latest rejection.

You know who isn’t lashing out? Michael Sam. He knew this was always a possibility, part of the cold business that is the NFL. A coach is your mentor and father-figure one day. The next afternoon he gives you a pink slip. Sam understands this is not the end, but rather another opportunity to prove his doubters wrong, earn his spot at the very top of his profession and take his rightful place in history.

Regardless of what happens to Sam, Scott Shackford expects a gay NFL player soon:

Even if Sam isn’t ultimately the first out player, I give it a year, tops. The media may have gotten weird about him, but polls and public reaction to Sam show that an athlete’s homosexuality isn’t the big deal it would have been, say, a decade ago.