Michael Sam signed with the Dallas Cowboys today after passing his physical exam with the team, according to various reports. He will be placed on the team's practice squad.
Sam grew up in Galveston, Texas, about four hours south of Dallas. Sam's estranged father lives in the Dallas area.
"I'm excited to be to be joining Dallas," Sam told the Dallas Morning-News. "I just want to play football, it's great to be heading back to my home state. ... It's been a roller coaster this past week but I'm happy where I'm at now. ... I'm just looking forward to being a Cowboy, my focus is on making the team."
Signing with the team's practice squad will certainly help do that. Each NFL team has a 53-man active roster. They are also allowed to have up to 10 players on their practice squad. The practice squad can change week-to-week or day-to-day. The practice squad, as the name denotes, helps the team practice during the week.
The practice squad is also a stepping stone to the active roster, though NFL teams are free to sign players on other team's practice squads or players who are not with any team.
The Cowboys have a lot of need at Sam's position. The team's top defensive end, George Selvie, has been nursing a shoulder injury. Tyrone Crawford is coming off injured reserve after missing the entire 2013 season. The team lost pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware to the Denver Broncos in free agency. Last year the Cowboys had the worst defense in the NFL allowing the third-most yards in NFL history.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said this has nothing to do with Sam's sexual orientation.
"This is about football," Garrett said at a press conference on Wednesday. "We evaluated him as a football player and felt like he can help us as a football player. We want to see what he can do. But our attention and focus is on football, it's on getting ready for the 49ers and that's the culture we have around here and that's the culture we'll continue to have."
Sam will take the field with the team today. He's unlikely to be on the active roster for their game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday simply because it's late in the week, but after that Sam Watch is on. The Cowboys play Sam's former team - the St. Louis Rams - in week 3.