Oakland Raiders adding Michael Sam makes sense for struggling team
By Chase Ruttig
Feb 15, 2014; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Governor Jay Nixon hugs former Missouri Tiger and draft prospect Michael Sam during intermission at Mizzou Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports
No Red Flags
When it comes to electric college players who hit the scrap heap so early in their careers, there are usually two red flags that surround those players. Those two being personality issues (trouble with the law being the most common here) and injuries. If an NFL team gives up on you it is usually because you have either gotten yourself into trouble or that you can’t stay on the practice field when it comes to practice squad players, and by all accounts Sam has done neither.
All Sam has done is put himself in a position that he really has never asked for. When Sam came out as an openly gay athlete it wasn’t a ploy to give himself all of the attention, it was a young man being honest with who he is as a person and the rest of the ramifications of that have been the result of people across the sports world not being able to fathom the idea of an openly gay person somehow being able to fill a role that is associated with being one of the toughest men on the planet. St. Louis let him go because they are set with pass rushers and Dallas never really gave him an opportunity, so now on the entirely free market Sam is once again just out there looking for another chance to prove himself without really doing anything to cause alarm for NFL teams.
By all accounts Sam was a leader in the locker room and on the field at Mizzou, helping the Tigers improbable run to the SEC Championship that ended with a close loss to eventual National Championship runners up Auburn. An All-American and locker room leader, Sam’s role in giving the Tigers a memorable 2013 season was a huge part in him becoming an intriguing name in the draft that would have been on people’s radars had he not have came out as openly gay.
Further to the point, Sam did all he could in St. Louis to try to convince Jeff Fisher to keep him on the roster. Amassing three sacks along the way in the preseason, including one on first round pick Johnny Manziel who he picked up a half sack on in 2013 when Mizzou played A&M. Nobody can say that Sam didn’t work hard to make the roster while in St. Louis, and currently nobody knows why things went sour in Dallas. All we do know is that Sam is a project player who has good collegiate stats and some impressive plays in the preseason as a rookie. That doesn’t scream red flag to me at all, but it does scream that there is potential that some are overlooking after Sam’s potential has been turned into a story about Sam’s sexuality.
Some say that Sam’s failures to crack the 53 man roster in both St. Louis and Dallas are red flags, but not making a roster is less of a red flag than some of the baggage teams willingly accept to bring in players on a weekly basis in the NFL. A winner of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, Sam’s off the field attitude makes him a low risk for the Raiders to bring in as he isn’t the type of player to get in trouble off the field or to cause any drama inside the locker room that would be directly caused by him.