Michael-SamMichael Sam announced his departure from professional football over the weekend, citing concern for his mental health after an emotionally difficult past year.

The first openly gay NFL draft pick began the 2015 season with Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes after brief stints last year with the St. Louis Rams and the Dallas Cowboys.

He thanked the Alouettes and his supporters in a series of tweets:

“The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health. Because of this I am 1/3

“— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) August 14, 2015


“going to step away from the game at this time. I thank the Alouettes for this opportunity and hope to be back on the field soon. Thank 2/3

“— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) August 14, 2015


“you all for your understanding and support. 3/3

“— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) August 14, 2015″


We profiled Sam last fall after the Cowboys brought him aboard their practice squad. He declined an interview, however. Through his agent, he cited a need for privacy.

Who can blame him?

The Corpus Christi native hasn’t escaped the spotlight since 2013, when he was named the SEC defensive player of the year at the University of Missouri. A first-rate draft, most observers anticipated he’d be picked in the first round. But after weak practice performance, the St. Louis Rams in the sixth and final round picked him. The question then remained: Was he relegated to the final round because of homophobia?

But he was picked, and was excited. He shared a celebratory kiss on camera with his then-boyfriend, earning push back from the religious right and other socially conservative types.

He was soon after released from the Rams, picked up by the Cowboys for their practice squad and released again, finally taking him to Montreal.

The dude couldn’t catch a break. So now gets one. A very deserved one.

Get some rest, Michael. You deserve it.