Yesterday, we covered Howard Balzer reporting that the St. Louis Rams had a deal with the NFL that they would not have to participate in HBO's Hard Knocks television series if they drafted DE Michael Sam in the 2014 NFL Draft making him the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL.
Today though, Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher went on the Dan Patrick Show to refute the story in the video above, saying the following:
Our draft room is our draft room. It's intimate. Nobody's going to have any kind of inputs on us whatsoever. We're gonna do what we think is in the best interests of the organization. At that point, Michael was the best guy on our board, and we wanted to give Michael a chance just like anybody else that we draft in the later rounds. So there was nothing then, and there's nothing now...
...No professional in our business would give up a draft choice with that intention. That's just bad football, and that was never discussed...
...It's unfortunate. Michael worked really hard. This takes away from I think the opportunity that Mike got because people are implying that there were motivations and reasons behind it. There were not. It was very simple. We drafted him because he was the best player on the board.
For his part, Sam wasn't shocked by the report:
I'm not surprised at all https://t.co/wGnyFpuIVP— Michael Sam (@MichaelSam52) March 23, 2016
The St. Louis Rams drafted Michael Sam with the 249th overall pick, the 34th pick in the seventh round, in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was released in the roster cuts to get down to the 53-man roster ahead of the 2014 season.
Sam is currently under contract with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
(UPDATED at 5:16pm ET)
Here's Rams General Manager Les Snead being short and sweet on the controversy:
And I thought it worthwhile to drop Michael Silver's interview on the Rich Eisen Show today. Silver, a reporter for NFL.com, was in the Rams' draft room in 2014 when the pick was actually made so his perspective warrants including it here: