Gruden stepped down on Monday as head coach of the Las Vegas Raidersafter it was reported that he used homophobic and misogynistic language in past emails uncovered during the NFL’s Washington Football Team investigation.
Among Gruden’s indiscretions was the use of a derogatory homophobic slur in reference to Sam, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014 after coming out as openly gay.
Speaking today on a webinar hosted by Augusta University, Sam said it was ‘unfortunate” to learn about Gruden’s emails, “especially” because Carl Nassib, the first active gay player, is a member of the Raiders. Unlike Nassib, Sam never made an NFL 53-man roster.
At the time of Nassib’s announcement, Gruden publicly supported his player, but Sam expressed skepticism about his true feelings today.
“So it almost seems like you know how the whole team would rally around (Nassib), but again, it almost seems like it was just for show,” Sam said, via USA TODAY. “So are you really a part of it, or are you not?
“It’s moving in that direction (of acceptance), so if you’re not a part of it, you need to find another profession.’’
The SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a unanimous All-American in 2013, Sam was a seventh-round pick of the Rams in 2014. In his emails, Gruden accused commissioner Roger Goodell of interfering on Sam’s behalf to get the pass rusher drafted.
However, then-Rams head coach Jeff Fisher vehemently denied that was the case this week.
“Michael Sam was the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and we selected him in the 2014 NFL Draft based on his defensive production and pass rushing skill set on the field,” Fisher said in a statement. “As a head coach for over 20 years, we drafted or didn’t draft, players based on a variety of qualities. Their sexual orientation would never – and should never – play a part in the decision-making process.”