Michael Sam Takes Abrupt Leave of Montreal Alouettes on Eve of 1st Preseason Game

Michael Sam, Jim Popp
The Associated Press

Less than a month after signing with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League, defensive end Michael Sam has taken leave of the team for undisclosed personal reasons.

The team released a statement raising more questions than it answered:

The Montreal Alouettes organization would like to clarify the situation surrounding international defensive end Michael Sam. Friday morning, Michael asked the team for special permission to leave training camp and return home for personal reasons.

Out of respect for Michael Sam, the nature of this decision will remain confidential.

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.

The organization will have no further comment on this matter at this time.

The Alouettes open their preseason against the Ottawa Redblacks on Saturday in Quebec City. The teams kick off the CFL’s regular season in Montreal on June 25.

When a local sports announcer Tweeted that he ran into Sam at Trudeau International Airport, Alouettes head coach Tom Higgins expressed surprise to The Montreal Gazette that Sam sat on an airplane rather than in his locker room before walk-throughs, raising questions about the veracity of the statement released by the team.

Sam landed in Montreal after the seventh-round pick’s efforts to earn a roster spot in the NFL fell short. After a promising 2014 preseason that saw Sam register three sacks, the St. Louis Rams released him. The Dallas Cowboys signed Sam to its taxi squad but ultimately cut him, too. At the first-ever NFL veteran combine earlier this year, Sam ran a disappointing 4.99 40-yard dash, making the possibility of an NFL team inviting him to camp this summer unlikely.

“I’m just here to play football,” Sam told the media assembled in Montreal in late May after signing with the Alouettes. “I’m not trying to really do anything historic here by being with Montreal. I’m just trying to help the team win some games so that we can bring the Grey Cup back home.”