Michael Sam, first openly gay NFL player, quits Montreal Alouettes due to mental health

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Image: Michael Sam and Vito Cammisano / Shutterstock

Michael Sam has left professional football due to mental health reasons.

According to a released statement by the CFL Montreal Alouettes, he is “stepping away from the game” and will be placed on the team’s suspended list.

Here is Sam’s statement in its entirety:

“The last 12 months have been very difficult for me to the point where I became concerned with my own mental health. Because of this I am 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 you all for your understanding and support.”

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, which made him a LGBTQ trailblazer: the NFL’s first openly gay player.

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.

Then in May 2015, he was drafted by the Montreal Alouettes in a two-year deal that effectively made him the first openly gay player in the CFL. He was to earn $100,000 this season.

But this is not the first time Sam has left the Alouettes. In June, for personal reasons, he left the team during training camp for two weeks to return home to Dallas. He did not play during the first five games of the season and he played his first game on August 7.

There is speculation that the pressure of being the first openly gay football player on both sides of the border has gotten to Sam, according to Bleach Report. There are also reports that his engagement with Vito Cammissano has ended.

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