A report claims the St. Louis Rams drafted Michael Sam — the first openly gay player in the NFL — in 2014 after the league said the team did not have to appear on a popular HBO show chronicling pre-season training camps.
"Hard Knocks" is a summer HBO series that follows one NFL team preparing for the season. The Rams apparently did not want to appear on the show and the NFL was concerned Sam might not get selected as the draft entered the final day. The Rams chose Sam in the seventh round, making him the 249th player out of 256 chosen.
Longtime NFL insider Howard Balzer writes on 590thefan.com
, a St. Charles, Mo. radio station, a deal was struck.
Sam played in all four of the Rams' preseason games that year but he was cut as the team trimmed its roster to the league-mandated 53 players.
The NFL passed a rule in 2013
saying one team must appear on the show every summer, even if none volunteer for it. The NFL can choose a team based on a number of criteria, and the Rams fit the criteria in 2014.
"We are eligible, but I think it's highly unlikely they'd ask us to do it," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said before the draft, reports Balzer. "I think this organization has a right to go through training camp with some normalcy."
This week, Fisher told ESPN
the report of a deal being struck was not true.
The Rams, who were relocated to Los Angeles for the upcoming season, will appear on "Hard Knocks" this summer.
Sam was picked up and eventually released by the Dallas Cowboys after the Rams cut him. He signed with a Canadian Football League team last year but he left before the season
because of "personal reasons."
Sam has since stepped away from the sport
due to mental health concerns.
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