Sam Ready to Focus on Football, 'Determined to be Great'

Posted May 14, 2014

Seventh-round pick Michael Sam spoke about his desire to focus on football in his introductory press conference on Tuesday.

With the lights from countless cameras brightly shining in his direction, Rams defensive end Michael Sam made his way to the podium at Rams Park for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, flanked by Head Coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead.

Sam certainly didn’t arrive at Rams Park on Tuesday expecting things to attain any typical definition of “normal.” The magnitude surrounding his press conference was undeniable—evidenced by the appearance of multiple national networks—and Sam had no designs on glossing over the obvious. However, he also appeared more than ready for “normal” days to arrive.

While much of the media attention toward Sam centered on his distinction as the league’s first openly gay player, Sam was eager to get to work known simply as the latest addition to what is arguably the league’s best defensive line. The elated, audacious Michael Sam that spoke with St. Louis media shortly after his seventh-round selection to the Rams on Saturday evening gave way to a more subdued, yet equally determined and focused persona.

“When you see me, I’m determined to be great,” Sam said. “I’m determined to make this team and I have every confidence in myself that I will make this team.”

The challenge of achieving that goal certainly hasn’t been lost on Sam, who met with his defensive line comrades upon first arriving in St. Louis on Monday evening. Following a pre-draft process that can be grueling on nearly every prospect, Sam didn’t feel the need to challenge any of the critics of his on-field abilities. He’s simply leaning on his new teammates coaching staff as reason for confidence in his NFL future.

“I’m getting coached by one of the best defensive line coaches in this game Coach (Mike) Waufle, and one of the best defensive coordinators, Coach (Gregg) Williams,” Sam said. “I think we’re going to do everything we can to make this a great defense in 2014.”

From the standpoint of Fisher and Snead, not choosing Sam in the seventh round would be akin to a fool’s errand. With a high-performing collegiate player who was rated significantly higher than his selection at 249th overall available for the taking, the choice became a simple one for the team’s coaching and scouting staffs.

“You’re always looking to upgrade from a depth standpoint,” Fisher said. “His skill set is unique. We all agree to that. Anybody that watched him play sees special traits. We’ll have the capability, provided that he’s able to get from point A – which is right now – to point B through camp, we’ll have the capability and potential to package him up in different defensive packages. We’ve already discussed the importance of his contribution to special teams and all those type of things. The work’s just getting started now.”

With the pomp and circumstance of his draft day and initial press conference behind him, Sam can’t wait to turn his attention to that work soon enough.