Meet the player who edged Michael Sam for a Rams roster spot


(Lynne Sladky / AP)

Michael Sam got all the attention in his bid to make the St. Louis Rams’ 53-man roster, but, in the end, a little-known player with an unusual way of motivating himself survived the final cuts and Sam did not.

Ethan Westbrooks, an undrafted defensive lineman, distinguished himself with size, speed and versatility, completing an unlikely journey onto a Week 1 NFL roster. Only three years ago, Westbrooks was working at Toys R Us and looking for a way to push himself on his dream. He settled on getting a tattoo below his eye, reminding himself of his goal every time he looked into a mirror.

“I was just like I might as well go ahead and get it on the face because if nothing else, it will help motivate me to either be a guy that has a tattoo on his face looking for another job or hopefully I make it in the NFL and don’t have to work too hard to do something [else],” Westbrooks told ESPN’s Nick Wagoner last month. “I don’t feel it’s a bad thing now. I don’t regret it. It speaks for itself.”

Westbrooks signed with the Rams in May as a free agent out of West Texas A&M and Sacramento City Junior College and managed to crack a roster that has plenty of depth at his position.

As for that tattoo? It reads, “Laugh now, cry later.”

After spending most of her career in traditional print sports journalism, Cindy began blogging and tweeting, first as NFL/Redskins editor, and, since August 2010, at The Early Lead. She also is the social media editor for Sports.
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