Michael Sam Cut: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Michael Sam


Michael Sam could end up on an NFL roster this year. But he won’t be on the St. Louis Rams’ 53-man squad when the Rams open the season.

Sam, who’s trying to become the first openly gay player to play in an NFL regular season game, was cut Saturday when St. Louis trimmed its roster from 75 players to 53. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Sam Played Well in the Preseason

Sam, a seventh-round draft pick, came off the bench at left defensive end in all four of the Rams’ preseason games and played well for the most part.

He made a tackle shortly after coming into the game in his NFL debut against the New Orleans Saints and had 2 sacks two weeks later on Johnny Manziel.

He made a team-high 6 tackles in St. Louis’ preseason finale against Miami and finished the preseason with 11 tackles.

2. Fellow Rookie Ethan Westbrooks Made the Team as Its 9th Defensive Lineman

Etha Westbrooks


Coach Jeff Fisher’s decision came down to a choice between Sam and undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks as the team’s ninth defensive lineman. The two battled for the spot throughout camp, but Fisher indicated he was more impressed with Westbrooks in the Rams’ preseason finale Thursday.

From Jim Thomas in the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

The headliner on that front obviously was Sam vs. Westbrooks — one last time. Sam was very active in the first half, and according to unofficial press box stats led the Rams with six tackles by game’s end. But Westbrooks wasn’t far behind with four tackles. One of those tackles came on his second sack of the preseason, and he added two quarterback hits.

“I’m gonna have to look at the tape, but Ethan was making a lot of plays every time I looked,” Fisher said.

As for Sam?

“I really didn’t see anything good or bad out of Mike … but he played hard,” Fisher said.

3. Other Teams Have 24 Hours to Claim Sam

Michael Sam tackle, Khiry Robinson

Michael Sam brings down Khiry Robinson for his first career NFL tackle. (Getty)

The other 31 teams in the league have 24 hours to claim Sam. If one of them puts in a claim, he’ll be added to the team’s roster.

If none of them do, the Rams will have the option of adding Sam to their 10-player practice squad. Practice squad players are not on a team’s active roster, though it’s fairly common for a player to be summoned from the practice squad if a need arises because of an injury or suspension.

The league minimum for players on active roster’s is $420,000 per year. Practice squad players earn a minimum of $6,300 per week, which translates to $107,100 over the course of a full season. Blogging the Boys has a good primer on practice squad eligibility and salary structure.

4. Sam Said He Expects to be on Someone’s 53-Man Roster

The consensus among scouts, coaches and fellow players is clear: Sam can play in the NFL. The question entering cutdown day was merely whether he would get a chance with the Rams.

After Thursday’s game in Miami, Sam said he’d grade his preseason performance a B+.

Via Outsports.com’s Bruce Silverman, Sam told reporters:

I did everything I could. It’s out of my hands. I’m at the NFL mercy…I’m very confident I’m going to sleep very well tonight and I’m very confident I’m going to be on a team – the Rams or any other team in the NFL.

Watch the video above for a report from Silverman.

5. Sam Fit in Well With the Rams & Proved Not to Be a Distraction

So much for the notion that Sam would be a distraction or not fit in in the Rams’ locker room. Sam generally got rave reviews from his teammates, and the closest thing during camp to a “distraction” had nothing to do with anything Sam did and everything to do with what ESPN admitted was sloppy reporting by Josina Anderson.

Anderson, citing an anonymous player, reported live on the air that Sam appeared hesitant to shower at the same time as his teammates. The report was widely ridiculed and ESPN issued a public apology to the Rams for not living up to the network’s reporting standards.


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Wayne Radous Jr

Being a distraction takes away from the TEAM. Being gay doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things but having a press conference about it launched him into a spotlight that overshadows the team. I’m sure there are many gay players and I’m sure some teammates know about them. It’s not a big thing until it’s made the focus of the individual versus his talents and what he brings to the table for his team. Bad timing on his part. He should have proven his abilities and showed selflessness BEFORE coming ” out” . it wouldn’t matter then. Good luck Sam. Hope it works out for you; you’re a decent player.


Where are the individual news coverage reports of all the other players cut this week? Seems he was cut due to skills like all the other players, but will make a roster due his media viability for a team that wants some extra attention – thanks media….

Ben Doody

Anonymous: First, who’s saying his release was anything other than a football decision?

There’s no suggestion either on our site or any others that he was cut for being gay. All indications are he was cut simply because the Rams had a lot of defense line depth. If you can find an article or column suggesting he was cut for being gay, please send me the link. I’ve read a lot of content about him and haven’t seen one person make that suggestion.

As for coverage of other players being cut: First, there IS a lot of content on a lot of sites about other players being cut. But there’s substantially more coverage of Sam because in trying to make an NFL roster as an openly gay man, he’s doing something no one has done before.

It’s by no means an apples-to-apples comparison, but people care more about his status than that of the average player for the same reason that they cared more about Jackie Robinson’s Major League debut in 1947 than that of any other rookie.

If there was a long history of openly gay players in the NFL, there would be substantially less attention on Sam. The reason there’s so much interest in his status is that he’s trying to make history.

Steve Buckley wrote a terrific column in the Boston Herald addressing a similar situation when UMass basketball player Derrick Gordon came out as gay earlier this year. Here’s a link if you’d like to give it a read. It might help answer some of your questions.


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