Former Missouri football players Michael Sam and E.J. Gaines made their returns to Faurot Field this past Saturday to see the Tigers knock off South Dakota State 38-18 in Mizzou’s season opener. The two were welcomed back with loud cheers, but those cheers soon turned into expressions of disappointment when fans learned that Sam had been cut by the St. Louis Rams in a move that trimmed the roster down to 53 players.
It was reported that Sam, football’s first openly gay player to be drafted, had heard the news via Rams head coach Jeff Fisher roughly an hour before the announcement reached the public.
Sam posted some impressive numbers during the preseason. He finished the preseason leading the team in sacks (3.0) and was among the team leaders in tackles (11). But St. Louis has lots of depth along the defensive line, which made it difficult for Sam to survive final cuts.
Here’s what some of Sam’s former Mizzou teammates had to say Monday:
—Russell Hansbrough: “I know he can play in the NFL. He was a great collegiate player, so I know someone will pick him up and he’ll be on a roster somewhere.”
—Bud Sasser: “I hate that that happened to Mike, but there’s not much we can really do about it. I wish the best for him.”
—Marcus Murphy: “I know Mike is a good player on and off the field. His values are his values. As long as he plays good, that’s all that matters.”
—Coach Gary Pinkel: “I heard so many great things about what Michael was doing with the Rams. Hopefully he’ll get an opportunity because he’s such a talented young guy.”
Sam has not been signed to any franchise’s roster or practice squad yet.
“The practice squad is heavily dependent on what you do in other positions,” Fisher told media Sunday, alluding to the depth the Rams have at Sam’s position.
A report came out Monday claiming that NFL representatives said there are general managers around the league who are interested in taking a shot on Sam, but want to avoid the media attention.
GM tells me: "Teams want to sign Michael Sam but fear the media attention." To me, that's cowardice. But that's just me.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) September 1, 2014