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Michael Sam, first openly gay player drafted by NFL team, cut by St. Louis Rams

Defensive end Michael Sam #96 of the St. Louis Rams takes part in pregame workouts before his team met the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Defensive end Michael Sam #96 of the St. Louis Rams takes part in pregame workouts before his team met the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images

Michael Sam’s quest to become the first openly gay player in NFL history hit a roadblock on Saturday. According to a report by ESPN, the St. Louis Rams released Sam as the team announced its final 53-man roster. The seventh-round pick came up just short, losing in a close competition against undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks.

Despite being amongst one of the final cuts, Sam proved he could play in the NFL. In the preseason, Sam totaled 11 tackles and three sacks and really contributed in the time he was given. Unfortunately, the Rams were very deep at the position. After learning of the news, Sam took to Twitter to thank the Rams organization for giving him the opportunity.

He tweeted, “I want to thank the entire Rams organization and the city of St. Louis for giving me this tremendous opportunity and allowing me to show I can play at this level. I look forward to continuing to build on the progress I made here toward a long and successful career. The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesion I’ve always known. The journey continues.”

Like all players released on Saturday by NFL teams, Sam officially hit waivers at 4 p.m. ET. The other 31 teams will have until noon ET on Sunday to claim Sam off waivers. If he goes unclaimed, he will be free to sign with another team. There is still a chance he could be brought back by the Rams and placed on their 10-man practice squad.

Head coach Jeff Fisher made it clear that releasing Sam was clearly a football decision. He also stated his belief that Sam could play in the NFL and would not present a challenge or distraction for any other NFL team that decides to sign him. In a news conference, Fisher said, “There will be no challenge, no challenges whatsoever. There’s no challenge with respect to Mike Sam. He’s not about drawing attention to himself. He kept his head down and worked and you can’t ask anything more out of any player for that matter.”