Michael Sam

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For the English criminal, see Michael Sams.
Michael Sam
Michael Sam final Mizzou home game.jpg
Sam holding a souvenir rock from the rock 'M' at Memorial Stadium after a win against Texas A&M.
No. --     Free agent
Defensive end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1990-01-07) January 7, 1990 (age 24)
Place of birth: Galveston, Texas
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Weight: 261 lb (118 kg)
Career information
High school: Hitchcock (TX)
College: Missouri
NFL Draft: 2014 / Round: 7 / Pick: 249
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
*Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
  • Unanimous All-American (2013)
  • SEC Defensive Player of the Year (2013)
  • First-team All-SEC (2013)
  • Arthur Ashe Courage Award (2014)
Career NFL statistics
Stats at NFL.com

Michael Alan Sam, Jr. (born January 7, 1990)[1] is an American football defensive end who is currently a free agent. He played college football at Missouri and was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Sam was a consensus All-American and the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Missouri. After completing his college football career, Sam publicly came out as gay. He became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. The Rams cut him at the end of training camp. He also spent time on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad before being waived.

High school

Sam attended Hitchcock High School in Hitchcock, Texas. He began traveling with the school's varsity football team while in the eighth grade as a water boy. He later became a member of the team, playing both defensive end and offensive tackle.[2]

He earned first-team All-District honors as a defensive lineman in all four years of high school, and as an offensive lineman in his junior and senior years.[3] As a senior, Sam drew attention for his strong performance against Michael Brockers in a game against Chávez High School; Brockers, an All-American, had accepted a scholarship to Louisiana State University.[2][4]

Out of high school, Sam was considered a two-star college football recruit by Rivals.com.[2][5] He received scholarship offers from Arizona State University, Colorado State University, and the University of Houston, but he wanted to attend Texas A&M University, and waited for a scholarship offer from them.[6]

College career

Sam accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Missouri (Mizzou), after he was recruited by Craig Kuligowski, the team's defensive line coach. Kuligowski recruited other players near Hitchcock, which made him familiar with Sam.[6] Sam attended the school from 2009 to 2013. He played for the Tigers, competing in the Big 12 Conference. He redshirted in his first year at Missouri, and recorded 3.5 quarterback sacks, 24 tackles, including seven tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one interception and one blocked kick as a redshirt freshman.[2][6] In his sophomore year, Sam intercepted a tipped pass in a game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, which secured a victory to make Mizzou bowl eligible.[7] In 2012, Mizzou transferred to the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Sam registered 3 12 sacks while starting in nine of the team's games.[8]

As a senior in 2013, Sam recorded 11.5 quarterback sacks and 19 tackles for a loss. He led the SEC in both categories, and tied Missouri's single-season record for sacks.[9] He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week in two consecutive weeks, after recording three sacks apiece in games against the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Vanderbilt Commodores.[10] After the season, Sam was named the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, with C. J. Mosley of the University of Alabama,[11] and a first-team all-SEC selection.[12]

Sam was named a first-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, Associated Press, Sporting News, the American Football Coaches Association, and the Football Writers Association of America.[13][14][15][16] He was also named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Hendricks Award, and the Lombardi Award.[2][13] Missouri played in the 2014 Cotton Bowl Classic, in which Sam forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, securing Missouri's victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys.[17]

During his college career, Sam accumulated 123 tackles, including 36 for loss, 21 sacks, six forced fumbles and two intercepted passes.[18] He graduated from Missouri in December 2013.[19] He participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl in January 2014; considered too small to play as a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL), he played as an outside linebacker. Sam struggled at the new position.[20]

Professional career

2014 NFL Draft

Early projections had Sam as a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.[21] However, his performance in the NFL Scouting Combine in February 2014 was seen as disappointing, which lowered expectations on whether or not he would be taken in the draft.[22] He was seen as too small to play defensive end and too slow to play outside linebacker.[23] He showed improvement at a public workout a month later, but his pre-draft rankings ranged from 12th to 25th among defensive ends. At the 2013 draft, 33 defensive ends were selected overall, with 23 taken in the final four rounds.[24]

Pre-draft measurables
Ht Wt Arm length Hand size 40-yd dash 10-yd split 20-yd split 20-ss 3-cone Vert Broad BP Wonderlic
6 ft 2 in 261 lb 33 38 in 9 38 in 4.91 s 1.75 s N/A s N/A s N/A s 25.5 in 9 ft 6 in 17 reps N/A
All values from NFL Combine[25]

St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams drafted Sam in the seventh round, the 249th of 256 players selected in the 2014 draft. He became the first publicly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.[26][27] In a statement, President Barack Obama said that he "congratulates Michael Sam, the Rams and the NFL for taking an important step forward today in our Nation's journey" and that "[f]rom the playing field to the corporate boardroom, LGBT Americans prove everyday that you should be judged by what you do and not who you are."[28][29] St. Louis Rams jerseys bearing his name became the second best selling rookie jerseys at the NFL's website behind Cleveland quarterback (and Heisman Trophy winner) Johnny Manziel.[30] During the period from April 1 through July 17, Sam's jersey ranked sixth in sales among all NFL players.[31]

Sam made his professional debut on August 8, 2014, during the first preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, where he made one tackle in the game on quarterback Ryan Griffin. During the second preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, Sam recorded his first professional sack where he sacked Matt Flynn. In preseason game 3 against the Cleveland Browns, Sam sacked the fellow top-quality rookie Johnny Manziel. In four exhibition games, Sam recorded 11 tackles and 3 sacks, including a team-leading 6 tackles in the final game. “I believe he can play in this league,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.[32] On August 30, St. Louis released Sam as part of a final round of cuts to reduce their roster to the league-mandated 53 players before the start of the regular season.[32][33] The Rams, who kept nine defensive lineman, chose to retain undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks over Sam.[33] While their statistics were similar, Westbrooks provided the versatility to play all four defensive line positions, while Sam had been playing virtually exclusively as a left defensive end.[34] Of the 41 picks in seventh round in the 2014 draft, only 22 made initial 53-man rosters. Opting to add depth at other positions, St. Louis did not add Sam to their practice squad after he cleared waivers.[35]

Dallas Cowboys

On September 3, Sam was added to the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys.[36] On October 21, the Cowboys waived Sam to make room for linebacker Troy Davis.[37][38]

Personal life

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church protest Sam and the University of Missouri
Student counter-protestors form a wall in support of Sam.

Sam is the seventh of eight children born to JoAnn (Turner) and Michael Alan Sam, Sr.[39] His parents separated when he was young.[4] As a child, Sam watched one of his older brothers die from a gunshot wound. Another older brother has been missing since 1998, and his other two brothers are both imprisoned. A sister who was born before him died in infancy.[40] At one point in his childhood, Sam lived in his mother's car.[4] He was once accidentally maced by police who were arresting one of his brothers.[41]

Sam argued with his mother, one of Jehovah's Witnesses, over playing football, as she did not agree with those pursuits. Sam often stayed with friends while in high school; the parents of a classmate gave him a bedroom in their house and had him complete household chores.[4] Sam is the first member of his family to attend college.[19][40]

In August 2013, Sam took the opportunity of a team introduce-yourself session to inform his Missouri teammates that he was gay, and found them supportive.[40] He avoided talking to the media to avoid addressing rumors of his sexuality.[6][13] He came out to his father a week before coming out publicly. The New York Times wrote that his father, a self-described "old-school ... man-and-a-woman type of guy", said "I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment."[4] His father told the Galveston Daily News that he was "terribly misquoted", though The New York Times maintained that he was quoted "accurately and fairly."[42]

On February 9, 2014, in an interview with Chris Connelly on ESPN's Outside the Lines, Sam responded to questions about his coming out experience and his status as one of college football's first openly self-acknowledged gay players.[40] At the time, no active NFL player had ever been out publicly.[19][40] Anonymous NFL executives told Sports Illustrated that they expected Sam to fall in the draft as a result of his announcement.[43] Those statements caused National Football League Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith to respond that any team official who anonymously downgrades Sam is "gutless".[44] From jail, his brother Josh said, "I'm proud of him for not becoming like me. I still love him, whatever his lifestyle is. He's still my brother and I love him."[41]

The week after his ESPN interview, Sam returned to Missouri with the Tigers football team to accept the 2014 Cotton Bowl championship trophy at a ceremony held at the halftime of a Missouri Tigers basketball game at Mizzou Arena. Anti-gay activist Shirley Phelps-Roper and about 15 other members of the Westboro Baptist Church, an organization widely considered a hate group, protested his appearance. Students organized a counter-protest numbering in the hundreds if not thousands,[a] assembling a "human wall" in front of the protesters.[48]

After being drafted by the Rams, Sam's emotional reaction to his draft was broadcast live on television, during which he kissed his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano. Reported to have been dating Sam for several months, Cammisano is a fellow alum of the University of Missouri who had been a member of the school's swim team.[49]

Honors and accolades

Sam won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPY Awards.[50] He was named one of GQ '​s Men of the Year,[51] and a finalist for Sports Illustrated '​s Sportsman of the Year.[52]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Missouri University police estimated around 500,[45] others reported a thousand or more,[46][47] while ESPN.com estimated around 2,000.[48]

References

  1. ^ "Person Details for Michael Alan Ii Sam,, "Texas, Birth Index, 1903–1997" —". Familysearch.org. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Palmer, Tod (November 7, 2013). "Missouri's Michael Sam rises from small Texas town to national star". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Former Hitchcock DE, NFL prospect Michael Sam announces he is gay". Texas HS Football. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Drape, Joe; Eder, Steve; Witz, Billy (February 11, 2014). "Before Coming Out, a Hard Time Coming Up: Michael Sam’s Troubled Upbringing in Texas". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Michael Sam – Yahoo Sports". Sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d Staples, Andy (February 9, 2014). "Michael Sam's rise from unheralded recruit to unstoppable SEC force". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  7. ^ Williams, Don (November 19, 2011). "Missouri scores late, saves win on tipped-pass interception: The Red Raiders have lost four in a row after Deoge's last-minute interception. Tuberville said a Tech victory "just wasn't meant to be."". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ Aschoff, Ed; Low, Chris (December 20, 2013). "Ten SEC surprise players in 2013". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Teammate proud that Michael Sam ‘'had the courage to come out'’". The Kansas City Star. February 9, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ Palmer, Tod (October 10, 2013). "Singing, joking Michael Sam sets the tone for Missouri’s defensive line". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  11. ^ Casagrande, Michael (December 11, 2013). "Alabama's C.J. Mosley, Christion Jones win SEC player of the year awards". AL.com. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  12. ^ Kerkhoff, Blair (December 9, 2013). "Defensive player of the year Michael Sam leads four Tigers on all-SEC team". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c Latsch, Nate (December 24, 2013). "Michael Sam's career accomplishments at Mizzou won't soon be forgotten". FOX Sports. Retrieved February 13, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Michael Sam Named First-Team All-American by Walter Camp: He Becomes the 33rd All-American in Mizzou Football History". mutigers.com. December 12, 2013. Retrieved May 11, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Missouri's Michael Sam is Walter Camp first-team All-American". The Kansas City Star. December 12, 2013. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  16. ^ Eulitt, David (December 13, 2013). "Mizzou's Michael Sam is two for two on All-America teams". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  17. ^ Chatmon, Brandon (January 4, 2014). "Mizzou defends SEC with Cotton Bowl win". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Michael Sam bio". University of Missouri Official Athletic Site. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c Branch, John (February 9, 2014). "N.F.L. Prospect Michael Sam Proudly Says What Teammates Knew: He’s Gay". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  20. ^ Paylor, Terez A. (January 30, 2014). "Senior Bowl losers: Transition to linebacker tough for Missouri's Michael Sam". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  21. ^ Gregorian, Vahe (February 9, 2014). "Missouri football star Michael Sam announces he is gay". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Michael Sam still on draft board". ESPN.com. May 10, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014. 
  23. ^ Chan, Melissa; Schapiro, Rich; McShane, Larry (May 10, 2014). "Michael Sam shares emotional kiss with boyfriend after he's picked by St. Louis Rams in NFL draft: Saturday’s selection made Sam the first openly gay player to be drafted into the league and prompted celebrations at gay bars stretching from Los Angeles to Queens". New York Daily News. Retrieved May 11, 2014. 
  24. ^ Pennington, Bill (May 7, 2014). "Sam and League Share Uncomfortable Scrutiny". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 10, 2014. 
  25. ^ Nolan Nawrocki. "NFL Events: Combine Player Profiles - Michael Sam". Nfl.com. Retrieved February 27, 2014. 
  26. ^ Belson, Ken (May 10, 2014). "In Historic Pick, Rams Take Michael Sam in Final Round of Draft". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 11, 2014. 
  27. ^ Carter, Chelsea J. (May 10, 2014). "Michael Sam makes history: First openly gay player drafted in the NFL". CNN. Retrieved May 10, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Sam becomes first openly gay player drafted into NFL". Yahoo News. Retrieved May 11, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Obama congratulates Michael Sam, first openly gay player drafted by NFL". CNN. May 10, 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2014. 
  30. ^ Boren, Cindy (May 13, 2014). "Michael Sam trails only Johnny Manziel in rookie jersey sales after NFL draft". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 13, 2014. 
  31. ^ Sessler, Marc (July 21, 2014). "Browns' Johnny Manziel leads NFL in jersey sales". NFL.com. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014. 
  32. ^ a b Farmer, Sam (August 30, 2014). "Michael Sam, NFL's first openly gay player, is cut by St. Louis Rams". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 30, 2014. 
  33. ^ a b Wagoner, Nick (August 30, 2014). "Michael Sam cut by Rams". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 30, 2014. 
  34. ^ Wagoner, Nick (August 30, 2014). "Sam simply on wrong side of numbers". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on August 31, 2014. 
  35. ^ Wagoner, Nick (September 1, 2014). "Sam not on Rams' practice squad". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on September 1, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Michael Sam signed to Dallas Cowboys practice squad". CBS News. September 3, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014. 
  37. ^ "Cowboys Waive Michael Sam From Practice Squad". Dallas Cowboys. Retrieved October 21, 2014. 
  38. ^ Curtis, Bryan (December 12, 2014). "The Kiss". Grantland. Archived from the original on December 12, 2014. 
  39. ^ https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VD75-25X
  40. ^ a b c d e Connelly, Chris (February 9, 2014). "Michael Sam says he's gay". ESPN. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 
  41. ^ a b Ganguli, Tania (February 14, 2014). "Michael Sam's safe havens: Football, surrogate family kept him off path of siblings who are dead or jailed". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 15, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Michael Sam's father denies remarks". ESPN.com. February 14, 2014. Archived from the original on February 14, 2014. 
  43. ^ Mellinger, Sam (February 9, 2014). "Michael Sam goes from football star to pioneer". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  44. ^ "DeMaurice Smith rips unnamed general managers who downgraded Michael Sam". espn.go.com. January 1, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  45. ^ Morrison, David (February 15, 2014). "'Stand with Sam' human wall draws large crowd before Tennessee-Missouri basketball game". Columbia Daily Tribune. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  46. ^ Latsch, Nate (February 15, 2014). "Supporters 'Stand With Sam' to block Westboro Baptist Church protest of former Tiger". FoxSports.com. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. 
  47. ^ Bennett, Colette (February 17, 2014). "Mizzou stands with Sam, stands down Westboro protesters with human wall". CNN.com. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. 
  48. ^ a b Reilly, Rick (February 18, 2014). "Showing How It's Done Mizzou students protected Michael Sam from seeing church protesters". ESPN.com. Retrieved February 26, 2014. 
  49. ^ Beekman, Daniel (May 12, 2014). "Michael Sam and boyfriend Vito Cammisano party in Las Vegas after NFL draft selection". New York Daily News. Retrieved May 12, 2014. 
  50. ^ "Michael Sam wins Arthur Ashe Award". ESPN.com. May 7, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014. 
  51. ^ "Michael Sam named one of GQ's Men of the Year". Columbia Missourian. November 17, 2014. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  52. ^ Hall, Erik (November 4, 2014). "Sports Illustrated makes Michael Sam a Sportsman finalist". Columbia Missourian. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 

External links