It is a storyline bound to be scrutinized — even over-scrutinized — during St. Louis Rams training camp, as the roster cuts are made and, if Michael Sam sticks on the 53-man roster, week by week during the league season.
Sam, a former Missouri defensive end and the reigning co-Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year, became the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL.
Tony Dungy, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts coach who works as an in-studio analyst for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” pregame show, weighed in, telling The Tampa Tribune, “I wouldn’t have taken him. Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”
Dungy didn’t specify the things he predicted will happen.
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Sam was a first-team All-American. After he publicly disclosed his sexual orientation in mid-February and struggled at the NFL combine, his stock fell. He eventually was drafted 249th overall, with the 34th pick in the seventh round, by the Rams.
Rams general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher seem to be aware of the history being made and, far from shying away, understand the increased scrutiny Sam brings to the organization.
Though Dungy said Sam should have a chance to play, in 2007 he said he “embraced” Indiana’s proposed ban on same-sex marriage.
Manziel leads league in jersey sales
CLEVELAND – Second on Cleveland’s depth chart, Johnny Manziel already tops one league list.
The popular rookie quarterback, who will begin his first training camp this week as a backup to Brian Hoyer, had the league’s top-selling jersey since April 1. League officials said Manziel’s No. 2 jersey outsold all others from April 1 to July 17 on NFLShop.com.
Dick’s Sporting Goods officials also said Manziel’s jersey is the company’s top seller.
Russell Wilson of the Seahawks is second to Manziel on the NFLShop.com list. Two more quarterbacks, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Denver’s Peyton Manning, rank third and fourth, respectively.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is fifth on the list and Sam is sixth.
League officials did not say how many Manziel jerseys — priced at $99.95 each — sold during the period.
Dareus to enter league program
PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Buffalo defensive tackle Marcell Dareus agreed to enter a league substance-abuse program in a bid to have felony drug charges in Alabama dismissed, his attorney said.
Rod Giddens wrote in an email to The Associated Press that Dareus was allowed to enter the program during a hearing at Calhoun County Court in Alabama. Dareus attended the hearing while being excused from training camp.
Dareus, who is from Alabama and played for the Crimson Tide, was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia after being stopped by a state trooper May 5.
The charges will be dismissed and potentially expunged should Dareus, 24, successfully complete the program.
After reporting to camp Friday, Dareus was placed on the active/non-football injury list after failing a conditioning test Saturday. Dareus must pass the test before he can be cleared for practice.
• Guard Chris Snee, 32, of the New York Giants is retiring because of elbow and wrist problems. The four-time Pro Bowl performer is the son-in-law of Giants coach Tom Coughlin.
Meanwhile, Giants running back David Wilson has been cleared for contact work after recovering from neck surgery in January.
• Standout defensive tackle Geno Atkins and starting cornerback Leon Hall were among nine players placed on the physically unable to perform list by the Cincinnati Bengals.
Atkins, an All-Pro in 2012, missed seven games and the Bengals’ one playoff game last season after undergoing surgery on his right knee. He was injured Oct. 31 at Miami and was not expected to be ready for the start of training camp.
• Philadelphia first-year safety Keelan Johnson is facing charges in Tempe, Ariz., after authorities say he pushed a police officer investigating a bar brawl.
Johnson, a former Arizona State player, has been charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, police said.
• Lawyers for Aaron Hernandez, former New England tight end, are protesting the broadcasting of chats Hernandez had with his defense team during courtroom hearings. The lawyers said chats were broadcast live over the Internet.
Attorney James Sultan filed a motion in Bristol Superior Court, where Hernandez is charged in the 2013 killing of semipro player Odin Lloyd.
|Players with most jerseys sold on NFLShop.com from April 1 to July 17:|
|1.||QB Johnny Manziel||Browns|
|2.||QB Russell Wilson||Seahawks|
|3.||QB Colin Kaepernick||49ers|
|4.||QB Peyton Manning||Broncos|
|5.||CB Richard Sherman||Seahawks|
|6.||DE Michael Sam||Rams|
|7.||QB Tom Brady||Patriots|
|8.||QB Drew Brees||Saints|
|Sources: The Associated Press, NFL.com|