FOXBOROUGH — The St. Louis Rams helped make history Saturday.
In the seventh round of the NFL draft, the Rams drafted Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to enter the draft.
Sam made international headlines in February when he publicly announced that he was gay, something that was already well known among his teammates and coaches but unknown to the general public.
With his announcement, the attention he received in the buildup to the draft was immense, with debates ranging from whether or not his sexuality would be a distraction to whether or not he was a good enough player, two prominent storylines for the entire draft. He sat on the draft board until the seventh round, leading to an uneasy conversation on NFL Network on whether the talented player was being overlooked because he is gay.
“We were very fortunate to have the supplemental choice,” Jeff Fisher told a national TV audience after the pick. “We wanted to use that to give to players you want to give an opportunity to. … He’s a good player.”
Sam, 6-3 and 255 pounds, was named a first-team All-American in 2013 and the co-SEC defensive player of the year when he tallied 48 tackles, including 19 for a loss, and 11.5 sacks. He had two forced fumbles and two passes defensed.
In his four-year career at Missouri, he totaled 111 tackles, 32.5 tackles for a loss, and 18.5 sacks.
Zuri Berry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.