As NFL teams scrambled to ready their final 53-man rosters in preparation for the start of the season this Thursday, a few noteworthy players found themselves in the free agent scrap heap. One of those players happens to be the first openly gay player in NFL history, Michael Sam. Sam, who was selected in the 7th round of the 2014 draft by the St. Louis Rams, not only failed to make the team–he also failed to make the 10-man practice squad, typically reserved for players the team hopes to develop further.
Surely, Sam’s sexual orientation (or the media attention that will inevitably follow him because of it) had nothing to do with the decision handed down by the Rams this past weekend. But if that’s truly the case, I’m having a hard time rationalizing how the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, who recorded three sacks during the preseason, couldn’t even find a spot on the practice squad. Sadly, many teams will shy away from picking up Sam because of what I like to call the “Tebow Effect”, however Sam is just beginning to adjust to switching to the linebacker position after playing most of his career at defensive end. With continued development, Sam can be a solid player with a lot of upside. The only question is, which of the remaining 31 teams will see his true potential through the media commotion?