Michael Sam has reportedly landed a coaching job in professional football, hired by the Barcelona Dragons as an assistant coach for the defensive line.
The Dragons play in the European League of Football (EFL), which is the latest attempt to bring professional football to Europe.
Sam played defensive end for the Missouri Tigers, where he earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was then selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams, who eventually cut him. He was signed to the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys, and he was eventually let go, never to wear an NFL jersey again.
“I am so excited to start this new journey and to help my new family however I can,” Sam said on Instagram.” I’m excited to learn more about the @europeanleagueoffootball, the players, and the Spanish culture. I also want to thank my LBGTQ community for having my back in my time of need. I will continue on to fight for our place in history. I love you all.”
Sam was many firsts in the NFL, including the first out gay player drafted by an NFL team and the first to play in an NFL preseason game. He was also the CFL’s first out gay player.
In taking the position with the Dragons, Sam is the rare publicly out coach in professional football. Katie Sowers was the first that we know of; Sam is likely the first publicly out gay male coach in pro football.
His hiring is an important step toward building bridges in sports across the LGBTQ community, and we wish Sam and the Dragons much success.