The St. Louis Rams only drafted Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player, as part of a deal where they would avoid being featured on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ series, according to a Wednesday report published by local St. Louis radio station 590 The Fan.
‘Hard Knocks’ follows an NFL team as it trains and prepares for the upcoming season in the summer, and according to sources, the Rams avoided the intrusion and hassle of being filmed during practice by selecting Sam during the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft and keeping the league out of the PR nightmare of denying a gay player a draft pick.
The Rams were announced as this year’s featured team Wednesday.
“This is an exciting time for our franchise,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said in a press conference about his team’s selection for the show. “’Hard Knocks’ will be an outstanding way to bring our fans into our training camp and preseason, and give a glimpse of the hard work and dedication of our players, coaches and staff as we prepare for the 2016 season.”
Since Fisher has consistently been opposed to the Rams being featured on the show, it seems odd that he now embraces it. When Fisher was asked about the possibility of the league picking the Rams for the TV show in 2014, a few weeks after drafting, he was confident the league would avoid the Rams.
“We are eligible, but I think it’s highly unlikely they’d ask us to do it,” Fisher said, according to 590 The Fan. “I think this organization has a right to go through training camp with some normalcy.”
If no team volunteers to be a part of the show, however, the league can pick a team that hasn’t been on the show for 10 years, doesn’t have a new head coach, or hasn’t made the playoffs for two years, which made the Rams fully qualified.
Fisher has denied the claims, saying, on The Dan Patrick Show Thursday, “[the report is] really unfair to Michael… [he] worked so hard. It’s really not fair to Michael because of all the hard work he put in.”
Sam was cut from the Rams’ roster during the practice season and, after being cut from the Dallas Cowboys’ practice team and leaving the CFL Montreal Alouettes before playing in a game, is now a free agent.
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