WWE, Canada Calling: Michael Sam Weighs Opportunities
Michael Sam finds himself on the couch rather than on the defensive line as the NFL regular season gets underway this week. That doesn't mean athletic opportunities remain closed to the former Missouri Tiger.
The Montreal Alouettes have reportedly reached out to Sam about playing in the Great White North. The team owns his Canadian Football League rights. Playing road games in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg may not appeal to Sam's inner-Texan. And competing for a not very competitive Alouettes team--they're 2-7, good for second worst in the CFL--may not induce a northward migration. But if Sam wants to play for pay, there's a spot for him in Montreal. As Cameron Wake, Brandon Browner, Warren Moon, and Doug Flutie could tell him, excelling in the CFL makes NFL general managers take notice of what they had previously overlooked.
The WWE ring, which has in the past played host to Lawrence Taylor and Refrigerator Perry, beckons Sam, as well.
"Exhibiting class and dignity rarely shown in professional sports, Michael Sam," Stephanie McMahon said in an open letter to the out-of-work end, "WWE invites you to next Monday's Raw to speak of your struggles to succeed, lessons you have learned along the way, the courage it takes to be yourself and the prospects of your continued journey." Given the tendency of WWE live audiences to rebel against the script, making heroes heels and heels heroes, oversaturated Sam's reception among the fans may prove less welcoming than his reception from the promotion's owners. The celebrated seventh-round pick might get a "Whoo!" a "Yes!" or a "What!" Then again, he might get a King Kong Bundy-sized "You suck!" The WWE's gambit for free publicity could ultimately mean bad publicity should Sam accept their offer.
Lest he see himself turning into the gay Tim Tebow, Sam should hold off on the offers until his agent exhausts all NFL options. Given the 24-year-old rookie's solid performance in the preseason--three sacks and a game-high six tackles against Miami--the SEC's reigning defensive player of the year may be able to carve out a roster spot on an NFL squad. St. Louis, boasting one of the most impressive defensive fronts in the NFL, may have been the toughest roster to crack for a defensive end. But the Rams' strength remains a weakness of other NFL teams. Sam's homestate Dallas Cowboys, for instance, field an unproven crop of defensive ends after the departure of DeMarcus Ware. Might Sam soon call the Big D home? That's just one team whose needs mesh with Sam's skillset.
But even in the Big D they are weary of the other Big D: distraction.