ST. LOUIS, Mo. – If you watch Michael Sam at practice he’s just one guy on a 90-man roster. He doesn’t stick out, per se. Sure, Sam’s big – 6’2”, 256 lbs – but so is everyone else on the Rams for the most part. He has his #96 jersey and goes through drills like football players have done for decades.
He’s no different than anyone else on that field.
Except Sam couldn’t be more different. Michael Sam is gay. And everyone knows it. Yet you wouldn’t know it by watching his interactions with coaches and teammates.
“They respect me as a human being and as a football player,” Sam said.
They – being his teammates – not only respect him, but they genuinely don’t understand why his sexual orientation is such a big deal.
“I’m not sure why we categorize the team and Michael Sam and how Michael Sam is going to fit into the team,” former Mizzou teammate T.J. Moe said. “News flash, he is part of the team. Michael Sam is on the team. There’s a 90-man roster and it doesn’t go 89 and there’s Michael Sam’s over there (because) that’s the gay team is this is the straight team. It’s not that way. Michael Sam’s on this team and he’s treated just like everybody else.”
Well if Sam is going to be treated like everyone else as a person then he has to be treated like everyone else as a football player. And that means he has to be good enough to make the final 53-man roster come September.
There’s just one problem with that. His position? Ya. He plays defensive end – arguably the most talented and deepest unit on the Rams roster. Michael Sam has his work cut out for him this training camp and preseason.
And he knows it.
“I’m telling ya, they get after it,” Sam said. “I got to compete and step my game up to compete with this defensive line. I thought our defensive line at Mizzou was tough. This is a whole new level. I got to up my game.”