It seems that Michael Sam, the first openly gay man to be drafted into the NFL was released from the St. Louis Rams last week. This was one I was expecting, but not for the reasons given. Due to my living situation I haven't been able to keep up with NFL news and happenings, so I was shocked to find out he had been cut from the 53 man roster.
I assumed that some hat in hand reason. Well, it turns out that the reasons behind his being cut are honest. Basically some other players came along and were a better fit than Sam was. But here is the thing, I never thought he was a great fit in a 4-3 defense, as a lineman. Of course, chances are Sam will find himself on the practice squad for the Rams, and while that is not the best position to be in, its better than the alternative.
Where do I see Sam in the NFL? Well, I would start by saying that he might be better suited to a 3-4 defense as a linebacker. I feel that his instincts as a player are top notch, but he doesn't have the size to be a lineman, or the experience. Sure he can bulk up, but lets be honest, some people are better suited to keep their current size and mobility, even in the NFL. I tend to see him as a hybrid backer, someone who can grab a spot on the line then fall back into a short coverage, or fall back as a QB spy. Conversely he could line up as a back and let the guys up front grab defenders and make holes for him to snag the QB.
As I said previously when discussing this young man, he is far more talented than his draft position indicates, and while he isn't a perfect fit for many teams there are a few out there that he would fit in well. Keep in mind I hold onto the old ways of football in many regards, you get drafted, make the cuts, you get limited playing time so you can get a feel for the game, and your role within your team. I didn't feel the Rams were a great fit for Sam, but he was happy to be there, a genuine happy, he made it to the final cuts, which shows he has the skills to make it, I just think he would be better served somewhere else, some other team that can use his services today and for the next five to seven years.
Honestly I was disappointed when the Steelers didn't draft him, I think he would be a great fit with LeBeau's defensive scheme in a year or so. Which is not a knock on Sam, nobody does well in LeBeau's defense instantly. It takes a year or two to learn the man's system, even for the most brilliant of players. But I feel he would fit on other teams, I am just using my preferred team.
In time we will see if Sam is picked up by another team, or if he gets stuck being on the practice squad, waiting for his chance on stage because of an injury. Which really sucks for him, because people will not look at him as the guy who got the job based on skills (which he has), but because someone else got hurt and he was just adequate enough to be a stopgap player (which he is more than adequate). Anyway this pans out for Sam, I wish him well in his future in the NFL, and I look forward to the day when we can say as a nation that we have the first openly gay man holding the Lombardi Trophy.