Michael Sam will be an active football player for the first time since 2015 when the Barcelona Dragons take the field this weekend against the Stuttgart Surge.
Sam was added to the player roster for the Dragons this week when linebacker Max Nacewicz announced his retirement, American Football International first reported. Sam had already been signed as an assistant coach, and he opted to step back onto the field with the team.
The Dragons play in the European League of Football, which is in part a return of the former NFL Europe.
It’s been seven years since Sam last played professional football, in one game for the Montreal Allouettes of the Canadian Football League. Sam had previously played in preseason games for the St. Louis Rams in 2014, and he was on the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys for half of the 2014 season. Before that, he played for the University of Missouri, having a stellar season in 2013 and earning co-SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Since then, Sam has been a public speaker talking about his time in football. People have over the years speculated about the role his coming out had on his NFL prospects. Outsports has long come to the conclusion that it likely had some effect on his draft position, that it may have had some effect on his inability to land a spot after he was cut from the Rams, and that it was just one factor that contributed to his quick disappearance from the NFL.
While we’ve maintained that clubs across North America and Western Europe will be widely accepting of gay athletes, Barcelona is a dream landing spot for said gay athlete. The city has a large LGBTQ community and is known as a gay-friendly destination.
At 32, we’re hoping Sam can help the Dragons in whatever roll he plays — on-field as player or off-field as coach. And we wish him all the best in his return to professional football.