Michael Sam’s NFL career was already on hiatus, but now that he has left the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, it’s fair to wonder if the 25-year-old’s professional football career could be on the verge of ending before it ever really started.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns. I’m surprised he left. I was very surprised. If he doesn’t come back, I would think football’s over for him,” said Als general manager Jim Popp. “He’s the one that has to face that. But I don’t think he doesn’t want to play football. That’s why he came here.”
Fair or not, Sam is already somewhat of a toxic commodity in the NFL. He brings a lot of attention and there’s clearly a belief that his signing could invite distractions. That’s something a lot of personnel people could tolerate if Sam were an elite prospect, but it’s also becoming clear that he isn’t. He’s a borderline NFL player and it would take some time for him to adjust to the CFL game.
Even before suddenly leaving Alouettes camp, Sam wasn’t necessarily worth the risk for a lot of decision-makers. But now you throw in an incident like this and the scales may have been tipped.
A team source told the Gazette that the former SEC defensive player of the year was struggling to adjust to the Canadian game, and another source said that Sam may have overreacted to criticism from a teammate.
“All I know is I heard somebody made a comment about him, about how he wasn’t very good and wasn’t having a very good camp. He took it personally and was pouting in his room,” the source said. “It’s very strange. I have no idea what’s going on. He might have a personal issue.”
If that becomes a popular belief, it’ll stick to Sam. And there’s a strong chance that in this cruel business, he’ll never escape it.