At some point Wednesday, Michael Sam is expected to pass a physical and officially become a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
The defensive lineman will be a practice squad player, but he’ll be the highest profile practice-squad signing ever as the first openly gay man on a NFL roster of any type. Sam was cut Saturday by the St. Louis Rams and went unclaimed by an NFL team until Jerry Jones, a man who never met a media circus he didn’t like and a general manager with a depleted defense, stepped right up. For Sam, the signing would be a relief as well as a homecoming. He played high school football in the area, where his father lives.
“I’m excited to be to be joining Dallas,” he said (via MailOnline). “I just want to play football, it’s great to be heading back to my home state. It’s been a roller coaster this past week, but I’m happy where I’m at now. I’m just looking forward to being a Cowboy, my focus is on making the team.”
He stands to deliver more than just help as a pass rusher. Sam had the second-largest number of jersey sales, behind Johnny Manziel, after the NFL draft and his actual presence on a team would stand to deliver for the Cowboys. But only the Cowboys would stand to rake in all that money because they’re the only team that markets its own apparel. That should be a big win for them.
In addition, as Time’s Sean Gregory put it, “Jones bailed the NFL out, temporarily at least. Sam will get another shot.” Besides, Jones could use a distraction after Don Van Natta Jr.’s ESPN story on him. Sam will, ESPN’s Jean-Jacques Taylor writes, fit right in:
Just like Deion Sanders did. And Bill Parcells did. And Terrell Owens did. Hey, this is America’s Team, the NFL’s most polarizing franchise.
No other franchise is even close.
That’s why they’re still a regular part of the league’s prime-time television package even though a generation has grown up in north Texas with no clue the Cowboys used to rule the NFL.
Love them. Or hate them. You can’t live without them, which is why whatever the Cowboys do — even signing a player to the practice squad — still makes big news.
Never mind any of that though. At least Sam is getting another chance at the NFL.
“This is a huge deal,” Wade Davis, a former NFL player who came out after his career ended, told the Star-Telegram.com. “The NFL and the Cowboys hold a certain cache in the minds of America. For Sam to go the Cowboys and go to team in need of defensive linemen is big. Going to the Rams we knew that was a team that was deep on the defensive line. But he has an opportunity with the Cowboys. With snaps and a chance to learn the system, there is a chance for him to not just be an LGBT icon but actually [be] on the roster, which is another level of transcendence.”