22 Oct 2014

Cowboys release Sam

11:42 am on 22 October 2014

The American football player Michael Sam, hoping to become the first openly gay athlete to play in a regular-season National Football League game, has been released by the Dallas Cowboys.

Sam, who joined the team in early September, spent the first seven weeks of the season on the 10-man practice squad and never made it to the 53-man roster.

Dallas Cowboys NFL team

Dallas Cowboys NFL team Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The first openly gay player in the NFL, Sam was a seventh-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams.

When he was cut by the Rams in late August, the Cowboys picked him up and immediately placed him on the practice squad.

Sam, a defensive end, was the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior at Missouri but at 6'2" (1.88 metres), 260 pounds (118 kilos) he was seen by some as too small to play defensive end in the NFL but not athletic enough to play linebacker.

Every NFL team has a 10-member practice squad that helps it prepare for games. When injuries force players to the sidelines, the teams often look to the practice squad to fill out their game-day rosters as short-term help.

The Cowboys' decision to waive Sam opens a spot for linebacker Troy Davis, a second-year pro from Central Florida who worked out with the team the previous day.