DE Michael Sam got his first taste of NFL action as he continues his mission to make the Rams’ roster.
A high-scoring preseason game between the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints was overshadowed by the NFL debut of former Missouri DE Michael Sam. He finished the game with one tackle and a forced incompletion against Saints QB Ryan Griffin.
Sam, the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and consensus All-American, openly announced that he was gay earlier in the year. His appearance on Friday marked the first time an openly gay man had stepped onto an NFL playing field.
As a defensive end at Missouri, Sam was a unanimous All-American in 2013 and helped the team secure a win in the 2014 Cotton Bowl over Oklahoma State.
But after declaring for the 2014 draft, Sam struggled in the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine, failing to impress with his bench press or 40-time. While he was able to recover in his Pro Day, he dropped all the way to the middle of the seventh round of the draft before he was finally taken by the St. Louis Rams.
Many commentators and some former NFL coaches including Tony Dungy claimed that the distraction of having the first openly gay athlete on their team would have been too big for them to draft Sam.
The Saints defeated the Rams 26-24.