Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Alouettes GM Thinks He Can Land Michael Sam To CFL

The general manager of the Alouettes believes he has a 50/50 shot of signing defensive-end Michael Sam — the first openly gay football player — before the Canadian Football League team goes to training camp at the end of May.
“The CFL is cut out perfectly for his style,” Jim Popp told the Montreal Gazette in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “It would give him the opportunity to do what he does best.
“His agent knows. They’re ready. They know this (CFL) may be what it is. It’s Michael who has to make the decision — and he might never come,” Popp added.
“The indications were he was ready to come last fall, and he’s still not with us. So I really don’t know. Seriously, I’d say our chances are 50/50.”
Sam, 25, has been on the Als’ negotiation list — giving Montreal his exclusive CFL rights — since he was a senior at the University of Missouri.
The 6-foot-2, 261-pound Sam was named the Southeastern Conference (SEC) defensive player of the year as a senior, yet lasted until the seventh round (249th overall) before being selected by the St. Louis Rams in the NFL draft. Only seven more players were picked after him.
After the completion of his collegiate career, Sam publicly disclosed his sexual orientation, which brought a wave of attention.
Although Sam recorded 11 tackles and three quarterback sacks in four exhibition games, he was released by the Rams at the end of training camp. St. Louis is considered one of the NFL’s top pass-rushing teams.
Popp has never spoken to Sam, but the GM has been in ongoing discussions for months with the player’s agent, Los Angeles-based Joe Barkett.

“We’re kept up to speed at least monthly. The interest is there,” Popp said. “He’s exhausting all potential NFL opportunities before deciding on the CFL.”
Popp believes Sam will wait until May before deciding his football future. This year’s NFL draft, conducted over three days, begins April 30. Sam undoubtedly hopes to be signed as a free agent either before or after that process. Three players who attended the veterans combine have already been signed and, with 32 NFL teams, there could be more.

But Popp believes Sam’s NFL opportunities could be limited, given his physical attributes.

“An NFL defensive-end, which is really what he is, most NFL teams want the guy to weigh 290 pounds. And as a standup linebacker, if they weigh 260 or 250, they’re dropping into (pass) coverage. His game’s not to drop and cover. His game’s to pass rush off the edge,” Popp explained. “It doesn’t mean he can’t play for an NFL team. He’s just not a typical body type or style for them.”

(Montreal Gazette) 

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