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First openly gay NFL player axed by Dallas


MICHAEL-SAMDALLAS, October 22- Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by a National Football League team, was released Tuesday from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.

The move comes with the Cowboys owning the NFL’s best record at 6-1 and having won six games in a row entering next Monday’s home matchup with arch-rival Washington (2-5).

Sam, a 24-year-old defensive end, was a seventh-round selection in last May’s NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams.

He played for the Rams in four pre-season games, making 11 tackles and three quarterback sacks, and was among the last players they released before trimming to the final NFL roster limits.

The Cowboys signed Sam to their practice squad on September 3 and he spent the first seven weeks of the NFL season on the 10-man roster of reserves that are not eligible to play in NFL games but who can be activated and moved onto an active roster quickly in case of injury and be familiar with the team’s play schemes and systems.

Sam, however, never reached the 53-man NFL roster for the Cowboys and his release opened a spot on the practice roster for linebacker Troy Davis.

“I want to thank the (family of team owner Jerry Jones) and the entire Cowboys organization for this opportunity, as well as my friends, family, teammates, and fans for their support,” Sam wrote on Twitter.

“While this is disappointing, I will take the lessons I learned here in Dallas and continue to fight for an opportunity to prove that I can play every Sunday.”

While Sam has not achieved his goal of reaching an NFL roster, the general lack of fanfare about his historic status during the past few weeks has indicated that there need not be concern about potential distractions and focus disruptions from having an openly gay player in an NFL locker room.

Sam still hopes to follow in the history-making footsteps of football’s Robbie Rogers and the NBA’s Jason Collins.

Collins made history earlier this year as the first openly gay man in one of the four major American sports leagues when he played for the Brooklyn Nets.

Rogers became the first openly gay man to play in a US sports league when he took the field for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer in May of last year.