A report suggesting the Rams drafted Michael Sam in 2014 to avoid appearing on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” is “absurd and 100 percent incorrect,” coach Jeff Fisher told ESPN’s Mike & Mike on Thursday.
Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL, was chosen in the seventh round by the Rams. St. Louis radio station 590 The Fan, citing multiple sources, reported Wednesday that the Rams made the pick to be exempt from appearing on the show.
“We had three seventh-round picks,” Fisher said. “We drafted Michael, who was the best player on the board. And who in their right mind would think that you’d give up a draft choice to avoid doing something like that — something that I think would benefit the organization.”
Sam, who was cut by the Rams before the 2014 season, took to Twitter to express his opinion on the report.
I’m not surprised at all https://t.co/wGnyFpuIVP
— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) March 23, 2016
“Absolutely not,” Fisher told Mike & Mike when asked again if Sam was drafted to avoid “Hard Knocks.” “And you know, unfortunately, something like that is really unfair to Michael. You know Michael works so hard. He was the best player on the board. He worked so hard, to try to make this look … Obviously we had a good defensive line, but not really fair to Michael because of all the hard work he put in as well.”
It was announced Wednesday that the Rams’ move to Los Angeles for the 2016 season will be chronicled on “Hard Knocks.”
“We’re looking forward to that opportunity and it will be a great story this summer,” Fisher said.
After Sam was cut by the Rams, he was signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad before being waived. The following year, Sam signed with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, where he played briefly before stepping away from his football career citing concerns for his mental health.