Sporting a rainbow "MU Pride" (Missouri University) rubber bracelet over his wrist wraps, Michael Sam debuted as the first openly gay player in the Canadian Football League (CFL) on Friday night. After toiling in preseasons with the St. Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys, and not playing a minute in the NFL, the 2013 Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year found a place north of the border with the Montreal Alouettes.
Sam said that he was nervous coming into the game, mentioning that he was focused mostly on his marking on the field. While his first play (above) was fairly neutral, Sam later fell hard for a ball fake in the third quarter. He did not record a tackle. The Alouettes lost to the literally-mascotted Ottawa Redblacks, 23-26.
It took seven games into the 18-game season for Sam to debut, but his play is still catching attention stateside.
While Jason Collins, a former NBA player and openly gay athlete himself, might be making a bit of a stretch to suggest Sam could fill the recently released, drunk driving Aldon Smith's shoes, the move from the CFL to the NFL isn't an unprecedented one. Well-regarded quarterback Doug Flutie bounced back and forth between the NFL and the CFL for several seasons. After taking a five-year stint in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts, Flutie made his way back to the Buffalo Bills in 1998, and retired with the New England Patriots in 2005.