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Originally published May 11, 2014 at 8:56 PM | Page modified May 11, 2014 at 9:09 PM

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Michael Sam might find St. Louis a comfortable landing spot

In St. Louis, Michael Sam might have found an ideal spot to pursue a pro career and try to become the league’s first openly gay player.He will have three former Missouri teammates with him on the Rams, and be playing for a team with many fans that rooted for him when he was in college.


The Associated Pres

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NEW YORK – In St. Louis, Michael Sam might have found an ideal spot to pursue a pro career and try to become the league’s first openly gay player.

He will have three former Missouri teammates with him on the Rams, including fellow draft pick E.J. Gaines.

Sam will be playing for a team with many fans that rooted for him when he was in college, and supported him when he publicly came out. And the linebacker prospect will be playing for coach Jeff Fisher, someone who didn’t shy away from being part of NFL history.

Perhaps more than any other place in the league, Sam will be allowed to concentrate on playing football and making the team, which is no guarantee for a seventh-round draft choice.

“I think Michael and his entire team feel he went to what was ultimately the right stage and the right place, with the right coach and the right system,” said Howard Bragman, a public-relations expert who has been working with Sam. “Any rookie already has pressure and Michael has added pressure.”

Sam was picked by St. Louis near the end of the seventh round Saturday, with the 249th overall pick.

He will join former Missouri players T.J. Moe, a receiver, and Tim Barnes, a center, along with Gaines, when the Rams start preparing for the 2014 season. Moe and Sam were in the same recruiting class at Missouri.

“I’ll certainly do my best to make him feel right at home,” Moe said. “It’s a much bigger deal to the media than it is to the players. Here it’s all about football.”

An NFL.com writer was in the Rams’ draft room and reported late Saturday night Fisher unexpectedly suggested taking Sam, a player the team had not given much consideration to before.

“We’re in an age of diversity. Players understand that; they know that,” Fisher said. “People will try to make it a distraction, but it’s not a distraction.”

Notes

• Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones was fined an undisclosed amount and will undergo educational training after sending negative tweets about Sam.

Shortly after Sam was drafted, Jones tweeted “OMG” and “Horrible.” The tweets were taken down a short time later.

Jones apologized Sunday and described his comments as inappropriate. The Dolphins said Jones has been excused from all team activities until he completes training related to his comments.

“We were disappointed to read Don’s tweets,” coach Joe Philbin said in a statement. “They were inappropriate and unacceptable, and we regret the negative impact these comments had on such an important weekend for the NFL.”

• Washington State offensive lineman John Fullington, who wasn’t drafted, signed a free-agent contract with the Green Bay Packers. Fullington, who started 43 consecutive games for WSU, is a graduate of North Mason High School in Belfair.



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