After publicly coming out in 2014 and becoming the first openly gay football player drafted into the NFL, Michael Sam had a hard fall and when he hit rock bottom, the athlete said the LGBT community that had originally celebrated him was nowhere to be found.
“Where was the support that I got for coming out? I felt like I was used by everyone,” Sam said in a recent interview with Yahoo Sports.
The former defensive end exploded onto the football scene when he was drafted by the then-St. Louis Rams, and a photo was snapped of him kissing his boyfriend in celebration.
As it so happened, ESPN just happened to be on hand, with camera, for what was a seventh round selection — which may have also set a record for attention given to such a late round draft pick.
— Vito (@Vitcamm) May 11, 2014
The chance of success in the NFL for a seventh round draft pick is reportedly around 5 percent. So as much as Sam’s selection was celebrated, he had his work cut out for him as an athlete, gay or not.
After the Rams released Sam, he was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys, but never made it off the practice squad. He was released only six weeks later.
After a poor showing at the NFL combine, Sam appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” and eventually found himself in the Canadian Football League.
Signed in 2015 by the Montreal Alouettes, who gave him a $100,000 salary, Sam did not do well north of the border, with some reports saying that he was out of shape.
Sam was the first openly gay player in the league, but he was going through a break up with his boyfriend at the same time.
“I didn’t want to be in Montreal,” he said. “I felt like I had to do it for the community.”
Sam played in only one game before eventually leaving the team. By then, he was already partying and abusing alcohol, according to Yahoo Sports. Drug abuse would come to be a part of that repertoire too.
After bouncing around, Sam ended up back in Dallas in the fall of 2016.
A “broken man,” according to Yahoo Sports, he became increasingly depressed and continued to abuse alcohol and drugs like cocaine.
Sam said he reached out to sports organizations and companies, as well as the LGBT community, but “no one would give me a job.”
“Where was the support that I got for coming out? I felt like I was used by everyone.”
After an ayahuasca retreat in Peru, Sam stopped doing hard drugs and he is now trying to work on broken relationships with his family.
As for his NFL experience, Sam concluded, “I wish I was still playing football, but I know if I was in the NFL, I wouldn’t have a relationship with my family.”
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