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First openly gay NFL player signs with the Cowboys

by DONNIE VAPHIDES Section Editor

Michael Sam has agreed to join the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. The signing comes after his release from the St. Louis Rams.

Sam was one of the last cuts to the 53 man roster. His preseason with the Rams was good enough to earn him a spot on the Cowboys practice squad. During that span of four preseason games, Sam had three sacks and seven tackles.

Sam broke his silence and declared that he was gay on February 10, a month after the college season had ended. He became the first openly gay athlete to get drafted when he was selected in the seventh round at pick number 249 in the 2014 draft, which was the third to last pick.

His career in college was a very successful one as he was the SEC (South Eastern Conference) Defensive Player of the Year in 2013-2014. He had 48 total tackles, 11.5 sacks, two pass deflections, and two forced fumbles. Sam was also a key factor in the Missouri Tigers’ 11-1 record, helping them win their first ever SEC Eastern Division Title. They lost in the SEC Championship game, but won the Cotton Bowl Classic.

In his four years at Missouri, he was an NCAA All-American in his senior year, and finished on the SEC All defensive team. His career total included 111 total tackles, 32 that went for losses, 18.5 sacks, two interceptions, five forced fumbles and one recovery that went for a touchdown.

In 2013, his 19 tackles for losses were first in the SEC of any defensive player. These numbers were good enough to get him a place in the NFL, even though it is currently on a practice squad.

Junior Frankie Rocca said, “The way Micheal Sam played throughout college and the preseason showed that he has potential to be a good player in the NFL and will probably be a starter for the Cowboys at some point in his career.”

Owner of the Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones likes to be in the spotlight, but is hoping that Sam can be a solid contributor to the team down the road, or even this season, as they lack on the defensive side of the ball.

“He was exemplary,” said Jones, speaking at a Lottery news conference in Austin, Texas. “He’s relentless as a worker. He’s relentless as a pass rusher. He is going to have to make up for a little speed. He’s going to have to make up for size, but how many times have we seen that? That’s what makes football. We are looking for pressure players and that’s his position. We hope that he can refine his skills. He’s not ready to go at all but can he come in and learn.”

We will have to wait and see, but if he keeps on developing the way he has already, he will be a solid player down the line that can help the worst ranked defense in the league.

Junior Stephanie Auerbach said, “If he is a good player, then he deserves to play. Down the road, I believe he will get his chance.”

While Sam plays for the practice squad, he will develop into a better player. How long his wait will take is now the question everyone is waiting to find an answer to.

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