The Montreal Alouettes will have to continue waiting for Michael Sam.
Both The NFL Network and ESPN reported Tuesday the defensive end is heading to Dallas for a physical with the Cowboys. If Sam passes, he’d join the NFL team’s practice roster.
Sam is trying to become the NFL’s first openly gay player. The 24-year-old was released Saturday by the St. Louis Rams and bypassed by the team for selection to its practice roster Monday.
Sam, a ’14 seventh-round pick by St. Louis, is on the Alouettes’ negotiation list, giving them exclusive rights to the former Missouri star if he chose to play professionally in Canada.
Montreal GM Jim Popp said he has reached out numerous times to Sam’s representatives but as of Tuesday hadn’t heard back from them. Popp said he put the six-foot-two, 262-pound Sam on the Alouettes negotiation list because he believes Sam can be an effective player in the CFL.
“He’s an outstanding pass rusher,” Popp said during a telephone interview. “With his body type, he’s a real true CFL rush end.
“If you look at guys like John Bowman (current Alouettes defensive end), Anwar Stewart and Elfrid Payton, that’s Michael Sam.”
Comparing Sam to Bowman, Stewart and Payton is heady praise, indeed. Payton is a recent inductee into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame while Bowman remains one of the CFL’s top pass rushers and has posted a club-high seven sacks this season.
Stewart is currently an assistant coach with Montreal but played in eight Grey Cup games – winning four – during an illustrious 13-year CFL playing career and in ’04 was named the league’s top defensive player.
But Popp said Sam is worthy of such accolades.
“He’s a very good football player and someone who’d fit our system perfectly and fit into our league very well,” Popp said. “He’s a relentless guy off the edge who wouldn’t have to be in coverage very often.”
Popp said he wasn’t surprised by the reports that Sam had garnered another opportunity in the NFL.
“He’s had some success there, he had a very good pre-season with St. Louis (registering three sacks),” Popp said. “Like I said, he’s a very talented football player.”
© The Canadian Press, 2014