The Montreal Alouettes were not shy about making some big moves this off-season, adding players like Samuel Giguere, Nik Lewis and Stefan Logan to an already top-loaded roster. But this morning, the Alouettes signed a player from their negotiation list that has already generated a lot of buzz in the football world.
Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in professional football, has agreed to terms with the Montreal Alouettes and will be at this year’s training camp. This former SEC Defensive Player of the Year was a standout in college but had to wait until the final round in last year’s NFL draft to hear his name called. The St.Louis Rams selected him and he was set to begin his pro career south of the border.
Meanwhile, Alouettes general manager Jim Popp put Sam’s name on that secret negotiation list that each CFL team has. Meaning that if the NFL didn’t work out and Sam wanted to play in Canada, Montreal would have first dibs on him. At last year’s training camp where everyone was going gaga for Ocho Cinco, I spoke with Popp regarding this Michael Sam move.
Popp had told me that he really thought that Sam’s speed and size were ideal for the CFL. He knew that Sam was going to exhaust all possible NFL ventures before coming up here and with the Alouettes defense already a force, Popp was willing to wait for this young man.
Sam didn’t make the Rams’ final cuts and he was eventually picked up by the Dallas Cowboys, who placed him on their practice roster. That also never panned out for the former Mizzou Tiger and there was talks that Sam could be headed to Montreal to join the Alouettes’ late-season playoff push. But the timing again wasn’t right as Sam felt he still had NFL options worth pursuing.
After appearing at the NFL’s veterans combine and competing on the TV show Dancing With The Stars, Sam has now decided that in order to pursue his football career 100%, he has to play full-time. The Montreal Alouettes will give him that opportunity to prove himself.
Much like Duron Carter, Cam Wake and Andrew Hawkins before him, Sam could use the CFL as a stepping stone to prove he does belong in the NFL. Being surrounded by strong defensive players like John Bowman, Alan-Michael Cash and Gabe Knapton will help Sam’s progression mightily. There will be no free rides however, as Montreal is extremely stacked on defense and if Sam doesn’t give this his best effort, he’ll be cut just like he was with the NFL.
But now Sam has a terrific opportunity to showcase himself and get some serious playing time. I for one hope he makes it and is a crucial part of this Alouettes defense going into 2015. And I think he’ll find that if the NFL still isn’t interested in his services, that he’ll have a fine career here in La Belle Province. As The Simpsons once noted in one of their sight gags, “Canada: We don’t care who you marry as long as you both watch hockey.”
Bienvenue a Montreal, Michael Sam.