Michael Sam made history on Friday night, as the former University Of Missouri standout defensive end made his debut as the first openly gay player in NFL history for the St. Louis Rams. Despite carrying a tremendous amount of media attention into the 2014 preseason, when Sam finally made his way onto the field, his focus was purely on the game.
“I make plays,” Sam said to the media. “That’s what you’re supposed to do.”
When asked what he will take away from historic debut, Sam told reporters “That I can play in this league,” and went on to add “That’s the most important. I was kind of nervous. I got some nerves out today. It was a very good learning experience, and I can play in this league.”
Sam’s debut performance was not overwhelming, but solid after entering in the first quarter. The seventh round draft pick did not appear to be overmatched by the New Orleans Saints‘ strong offensive line. He made one hit on Saints quarterback Ryan Griffin and hurried the third-stringer on a few other occasions. Sam finished the game with one tackle, and undoubtedly some alleviated nerves, as he was obviously excited leading up to the game.
Finally it’s Game Day!!! St. Louis Rams kick off first preseason game against New Orleans Saints. I can’t wait to see all of the Ram fans!!!
— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) August 8, 2014
It remains to be seen whether or not Sam can cement a spot on the Rams’ 53-man roster. St. Louis has a very deep defensive line and securing a role will be tough. Sam could strengthen his chances by excelling on special teams when given the opportunity.
Regardless, Michael Sam is a part of the National Football League’s history forever, yet his journey is really just beginning.