Did the Rams Only Draft Openly Gay Player Michael Sam to Avoid HBO’s Hard Knocks?

Longtime NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweeted that a deal was struck between the NFL and the then-St. Louis—now Los Angeles—Rams that if the team drafted Sam, it wouldn’t have to appear in the HBO docuseries.

Defensive end Michael Sam of the then-St. Louis Rams during pregame workouts Aug. 28, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Defensive end Michael Sam of the then-St. Louis Rams during pregame workouts Aug. 28, 2014, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Marc Serota/Getty Images

On Wednesday, NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweeted that the NFL reached a deal with the then-St. Louis—now Los Angeles—Rams that if the team drafted openly gay defensive end Michael Sam, it wouldn’t have to appear in the HBO docuseries Hard Knocks.

“Sources say NFL agreed not to have Rams on Hard Knocks in 2014 if they drafted Michael Sam,” Howard Balzer tweeted, CBS New York reports.

The Rams selected Sam in the seventh round of the 2014 draft, making him the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team.

According to the news station, Sam was not shocked by the report.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Sam tweeted.

Apparently the NFL was concerned about the prospects for Sam, who announced that he was gay while a junior at the University of Missouri, where he was a standout of the field. Sam’s story had become national news, and Balzer’s sources said that they believe the NFL was concerned that Sam might not get drafted. Knowing that the Rams wanted no part of the Hard Knocks series, which takes an in-depth look at training camps of one team each year, a deal was reportedly struck between the Rams and the NFL: Draft Sam and you don’t have to participate in the show.

The Rams cut Sam before the 2014 regular season. He was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys and signed to its practice squad but lasted only seven weeks, according to CBS New York.

The Rams will be featured this season on Hard Knocks, set to air Aug. 9, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Read more at CBS New York and the Los Angeles Times.

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