“The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health. Because of this I am going to step away from the game at this time. I thank the Alouettes for this opportunity and hope to be back on the field soon. Thank you all for your understanding and support.”
A week ago Sam was prepping for his debut with the Montreal Alouettes.
Now, it appears he’s left the team.
Sam’s time in Montreal has been a roller coaster. After much fanfare about his signing, he left the team for personal reasons the day before his first preseason game in June. When he returned to the team it was revealed that he had ended his relationship with his then-fiancé. In July he allegedly struggled to get into football shape, and reports claimed dissension on the team due to “preferential treatment” of the openly gay player.
He appeared in his team’s game at Ottawa last week but did not record a sack or tackle in limited action. Last night he was not present for his team’s game against the Edmonton Eskimos, either on the roster or in the stadium.
It is worth noting the incredible pressures put on Sam.
Before he came out a year and a half ago, before the NFL draft, he was expected to be a 3rd round draft pick based on his senior year play and being named SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Within hours of coming out, football websites saw his potential draft pick possibilities drop to maybe 5th or 6th round.
In the end, he was picked #249 in the 7th round.
Months later, it was revealed Sam never intended to come out in such a public fashion. He told the press his intention was to quietly come out to whatever team picked him up. That was how he handled coming out at Mizzou, and all went well.
But the press was apparently about to out him, and he felt he needed to control the story rather than let it unwind on it’s own. I’d have done the same thing.
I think from there things spiraled, and it became a “one foot in front of the other” situation. Survive.
All Sam wanted to do was play football. A sport that gave him solace and strength in a difficult childhood.
Truly heartbreaking. I certainly wish Sam well.