After a report emerged earlier this week that the Rams drafted openly-gay defensive end Michael Sam as part of a deal to avoid Hard Knocks in 2014, Sam said he was “not surprised” by the news. Sam has now elaborated on his position.
“Not surprised that the NFL had a deal with the Rams,” Sam said in a quote provided to The Dan Patrick Show. “Makes sense to me why they cut me and not Ethan Westbrooks even though I out performed him in our production. Makes sense why Coach Fisher was very vague the day he cut me from the team.”
Westbrooks was signed as an undrafted free agent, with a $20,000 signing bonus and $30,000 in guaranteed salary in 2014.
Fisher has denied the reported quid pro quo regarding the drafting of Sam and the avoidance of Hard Knocks, and the NFL has referred to Fisher’s remarks in lieu of issuing a statement of its own. Still, Howard Balzer’s report cites a trio of unnamed sources — and he stands by the story.
“The denials are not surprising,” Balzer writes. “The Rams’ choices were to acknowledge the report was accurate, which wasn’t going to happen; say nothing, which would be a tacit admission; or deny, deny, deny. And that’s what they did.”
It would be unfortunate if the denials are indeed the truth, but that’s where things now stand when it comes to issues of this nature for the NFL. No one takes anything at face value, in part because plenty of things previously taken at face value (from the salary-cap penalties imposed on Washington and Dallas to the Saints bounty scandal to the Ray Rice situation to #Deflategate to the recent tampering penalties imposed upon the Chiefs) reveal a different reality once the surface is aggressively scratched.
In this specific case, there will be no way to scratch the surface because the NFL won’t be investigating the allegation of a Hard Knocks deal with the Rams, in part because it involves the NFL itself and in part because public pressure has yet to approach the level that prompted the league to take a microscope to itself once the Associated Press reported that 345 Park Avenue had received an advance copy of the notorious Rice elevator video.