Michael Sam has signed a deal to play with the Montreal Alouettes this season, the team announced today (Friday, May 22). His first game with the Canadian Football League team will be on June 25 against the Ottawa Redblacks.
The NFL’s first out gay football player had it rough until now. He was considered a top NFL prospect in his final year at the University of Missouri at Columbia but was only recruited by the St. Louis Rams in the final round. Many commentators and observers, including local sports anchor Dave Hansen, suggested homophobia played a role during the process and when he was later released by Rams.
Sam then briefly had a role on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.
“With the signing of Michael Sam, we have become a better organization today,” said Alouettes’ general manager, Jim Popp. “Not only have we added an outstanding football player, we have added even a better person that brings dignity, character and heart to our team.”
Sam said in a statement he was excited to join the team:
“I am very excited and proud to join the Montreal Alouettes and want to thank team Owner Robert Wetenhall, General Manager Jim Popp and Head Coach Tom Higgins for this opportunity. I cannot wait to put on the pads, get back on the field and work hard each and every day with my teammates to bring a Grey Cup to the great fans here in Montreal.”
Canadian football is just like U.S. football except there are 12 players on a Canadian football team, according to David Taffet, the Voice’s football expert. But additionally:
1. The 12th player plays a backfield position.
2. And the field is 110 yards long and 10 yards wider than a U.S. field. Each team only gets three downs to gain 10 yards.
3. Then there are rule differences — mostly rules adopted by the NFL during the past 50 or more years and never changed by the CFL.
4. The CFL has nine teams and the regular season begins in June. The playoffs, called the Grey Cup, are in mid-November.
5. The Montreal Alouettes won the Grey Cup in 2009 and 2010. Last year, the Calgary Stampeders took the cup and in 2013 it was the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
His jersey, number 94, is already for sale on the Aoulettes website.