Rams didn’t draft Michael Sam because of Roger Goodell
Posted On October 13, 2021
Among the many startling and vile snippets of Jon Gruden’s emails the New York Times revealed on Monday was the use of a homophobic term in reference to the city of St. Louis Rams’ decision to select Michael Sam – a Openly gay defensive end – in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Gruden’s claim that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pressured the Rams to draft Sam was disputed by then team coach Jeff Fisher.
“Michael Sam was the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 and we selected him for the 2014 NFL Draft based on his defensive production and quick passing skills on the court,” Fisher wrote in a Twitter post. “As a head coach for over 20 years, we have drafted or not drafted players based on various qualities. Their sexual orientation would never – and never should – play a role in the decision-making process.
“I continue to support Michael and his decision to become the first openly gay league draft eligible player. It took courage to serve as a role model for these competitive football players who can also be gay.
“Finally, the NFL has never encouraged or discouraged me regarding the selection of a potential prospect.”
Sam was a seventh-round selection, No. 249 overall, outside of Missouri. He was in the final selections as the Rams reduced their roster to the 53-man limit before the 2014 season. After a stint on the Dallas Cowboys practice team and a short stint in the Canadian Football League, Sam officially left professional football in August 2015.
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Gruden’s criticism of the Rams writing Sam was notable in that Monday was also National Coming Out Day. After the New York Times article was published, a fan tweeted to Sam thanking him for being a model. Sam responded with his gratitude.
Gruden resigned Monday night after the New York Times report was released. Longtime NFL assistant coach Rich Bisaccia will be the Raiders’ interim head coach.