The Montreal Alouettes have signed American football player Michael Sam to a two year deal, making him the first openly gay player in the Canadian Football League.
“With the signing of Michael Sam, we have become a better organization today,” said Jim Popp, Alouettes’ general manager, in a release. “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.”
The 25-year-old Texas native made international headlines in February 2014 when he publicly revealed his sexuality. He came out just before the draft and was the seventh-round draft pick for the St. Louis Rams.
However, Sam was cut by the Rams right after the 2014 training camp and spent a brief stint with the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad before being waived. He never played on the Cowboys’ roster.
“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,” said Sam. “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.”
The Alouettes are already selling his No. 94 jersey on the team’s website for $139.95. It is expected to become a best-seller in the entire league.
— Outsports (@outsports) May 23, 2015
Sam first demonstrated his defensive end abilities over four seasons with the NCAA’s University of Missouri Tigers, where he accumulated 123 total tackles, 21 sacks and two interceptions.
The news coincides with the release of a study earlier this month that found that Canada was the most accepting English-speaking country for LGBT athletes. The study on homophobia in sport examined Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom.