The Montreal Alouettes did not shine a lot of new light Sunday on why Michael Sam abruptly left the Canadian Football League team a day before their first exhibition game, but their statements were not very supportive. Here is what General Manager Jim Popp told the Montreal Gazette:
"There's nothing to tell you. He wanted to go home, and that's what he did. I don't know why. When a guy wants to go home, they go home. He had some personal things to take care of. I wouldn't be surprised if he returns. I'm surprised he left. I was very surprised. If he doesn't come back, I would think football's over for him. He's the one that has to face that. But I don't think he doesn't want to play football. That's why he came here."
Popp's comments are a lot less positive than what the team said in a statement Friday when Sam was spotted at the Montreal airport heading home to Texas. "The Montreal Alouettes fully respect Michael Sam's decision and we rally around him to offer all the support needed. The team has left the door open and Michael is welcome to come back whenever he feels ready." Sam has been put on the suspended list by the team, which plays its season opener June 25.
Sam's agents aren't talking publicly either, since one of them first said that Sam left because he had a migraine. That seemed a rather flimsy reason to leave town since one can just as easily deal with a migraine in Montreal as in Texas.
The Gazette quoted two sources within the team who made it sound like Sam might be done and that his reason for leaving was basically him pouting:
While Popp says the door remains open for his return, another source within the organization virtually guaranteed the likelihood of that happening is non-existent. The source also chided Sam for appearing on the reality TV series "Dancing With the Stars" instead of preparing for the coming season. ...
Another team source said Sam may have simply overreacted to a comment that was made to him by another player.
"All I know is I heard somebody made a comment about him, about how he wasn’t very good and wasn’t having a very good camp. He took it personally and was pouting in his room," the source said. "It’s very strange. I have no idea what’s going on. He might have a personal issue."
Popp was sympathetic to Sam attempting to play football as an openly gay 25-year-old, but this whole situation makes him look bad. I was at the Nike LGBT Sports Summit in Portland when news about Sam leaving the team broke and several people expressed their dismay over what was occurring.
I don't know why Sam left the team but the bottom line is that if he doesn't return to the Alouettes soon, his dreams of playing pro football are over forever since no team would ever want to take a chance on him again. It would be a sad ending to his story that burned so promising 16 months ago.