Michael Sam released by St. Louis Rams
(CNN) — The St. Louis Rams announced Saturday that Michael Sam, who made history as the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, has been waived and did not make the team’s final 53-man roster.
Sam, an All-American defensive end who played for the University of Missouri, made history when he was picked by the Rams in the seventh and final round. He was the 249th of 256 players selected.
Sam, at 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, starred in college football last season. Besides being first team All-American, he was named the top defensive player in the Southeastern Conference, considered the nation’s best league. Teammates named him the team’s most valuable player.
At a press conference, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said “it was a football decision. It was a football decision back in May when we drafted Mike.”
Fisher said Sam worked hard, but the team already had a lot of strong defensive ends.
“I was pulling for Mike,” he said.
The Rams’ move does not necessarily mean the end of Sam’s professional career. He could still be picked up by another team, possibly on waivers, or return to the Rams as a player on the practice squad, Fisher said.
“Mike has the ability to play somewhere,” Fisher said. “It needs to be the right place and a good fit.”
Sam publicly announced he was gay shortly before the NFL draft. When he was drafted, he made waves kissing his boyfriend in celebration as cameras looked on.
Being drafted was historic and Sam even received a congratulatory phone call from President Barack Obama.
“I’m determined to be great,” he told reporters after the draft. “So I’m going to train hard and try to make the team.”
Fisher said the talked one-one-one with all the players who were released except Sam, who decided to go out of town. He said he will talk to him in person on Sunday.
Other athletes have come out as gay, but they didn’t have Sam’s profile. Among them are the NBA’s Jason Collins, the WNBA’s Brittney Griner, WWE’s Darren Young, UFC’s Liz Carmouche, MMA’s Fallon Fox and Major League Soccer’s Robbie Rogers