Michael Sam’s journey to getting back in the National Football League began Sunday morning in Arizona.
The former Missouri Tiger and seventh-round pick of the St. Louis Rams was one of the many free agents to go through specific drills in front of scouts from all 32 teams. This was the NFL’s first veteran combine, which was hosted at the Arizona Cardinals practice facility.
Matt Birk, who organized the veteran combine and is the NFL director of football development, says these veterans are “fighting for their football lives.”
40 Yard Dash
Sam posted unimpressive numbers, running the 40 yard dash in 5.07 seconds. His first attempt was clocked at 5.1 seconds. In last year’s combine, he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.91 seconds. Sam said he did not talk to any scouts there, but met with the media right after his workout before leaving the facility.
The former Missouri Tiger refused to answer non football questions from the media, including one about whether his appearance on ABC’s popular show “Dancing with the Stars” will affect his chances to make an NFL roster. “Next question,” Sam replied.
Before leaving the Cards facility, Sam said he really wants to play in the NFL. “As long as I still have that will, as long as I’m still healthy and can play this game, you will continue to see me fighting to get in this league,” he said.
The 2013 SEC co-defensive player of the year was last on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. He was let go by Dallas on Oct. 21, after a few weeks of practices. Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be drafted when the Rams took him late in the 2014 NFL Draft, his time with the St. Louis team was short, who cut him right before the season started.
Sam did not show much today, but he knows that if he doesn’t make it in the NFL, the Canadian Football League will be waiting for the 261 pound defensive end. “I am very confident that I will be playing football this year somewhere,” Sam said. “So we’ll leave that at that.”
He was asked if the Canadian Football League was an option,”If that’s an opportunity, then I will take it,” he said. Of course, he really wants to make the National Football League but the CFL isn’t a bad place, the league has featured many NFL veterans in the past.
Sam says he’s been working hard this whole year to prove teams he’s ready for a chance. The defensive end hasn’t officially debuted in the NFL, but he recently debuted in “Dancing with the Stars” and is set to appear on Monday’s new episode.
Sam said he showed up Sunday with improved skills, improved footwork, and better hands. But will he make an NFL roster after his 40 yard dash time?
The ex-Rams player gave a shoutout to his old teammates, Chris Long and Robert Quinn, for helping him out in his time there. “Those guys taught me a lot,” Sam said. “I used that today and hopefully when I get back on another team I can use what they taught me to better my career.”
Sam was among the 2,000 candidates for the first veteran combine and one of the 19 members of the defensive line group there.