Pete Prisco: ‘Sam’s Just An Okay Football Player’
He’ll get to Michael Sam in a second, but first, Pete Prisco needs to get something off his chest.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I hate the preseason,” the CBSSports.com NFL writer told John Kincade, who was filling in as co-host of The John Feinstein Show. “We love it because it gets here, (but) then you start watching it and you realize what a joke it is. This past preseason might have been the worst one ever. I think they have to do something about it, and I think they ultimately will. They’ll cut it down to two games and add two regular-season games.”
Luckily for Prisco – and all of us – the preseason has concluded, and the real football gets underway Thursday night, with Green Bay traveling to Seattle. Yes, it should be an exciting Week 1.
And Michael Sam won’t be a part of it.
The St. Louis Rams cut Sam, the seventh-round pick out of Missouri, who was seeking to become the first openly gay player to play in a regular-season game. Sam was not claimed by any other team in the league – neither for the active roster, nor for the practice squad.
So, there are 320 practice-squad spots available, and the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year is not good enough for one of them? Is that what we’re saying?
“Well, that’s up to the teams to decide,” Prisco said, “and the Rams . . . ultimately decided they didn’t think he was worth being on their practice squad. If the St. Louis Rams, who had him in camp, didn’t think he was worth being on their practice squad, isn’t that a little bit of a red flag to everybody else?”
Sam finished the preseason with three sacks. Of the 12 players who finished with three or more sacks in the preseason, Sam is the only one without a job.
“He’s just an okay football player,” Prisco said. “In the National Football League, okay doesn’t cut it. And the Rams, who know a thing or two about defensive linemen, (didn’t want him). Why would you not want to take a (potential) speed edge rusher and develop him if you thought he could be a good pass rusher? (There’s) a premium on speed pass rushers, and he’s not getting signed because he’s not a speed pass rusher. He’s not explosive.”
Prisco said he was watching Sam’s preseason tape against Cleveland, and one play caught his eye in particular. Apparently Cleveland had the ball near the goal line, and every Rams defensive lineman was engaged with a Browns offensive lineman – except Sam, who was still in his stance.
“There’s no explosiveness there,” Prisco said. “Would I put him on a practice squad? Maybe. But I could see where teams wouldn’t.”
Some teams have reportedly said they don’t want Sam because they fear potential distraction. Prisco isn’t buying it.
“I just don’t agree with that,” he said. “I just do not. I think it’s a football decision. There’s been gay players in the NFL in the past, and teams have known they were gay players. They were good football players. It wasn’t a distraction. You talk to players around the NFL – and I’ve talked to plenty of them – and the reality is they don’t care. They just want to win football games. Would the media make it a distraction? Who knows? Did they make it a distraction in St. Louis? I don’t think they did.”
Well, there was the showering report by Josina Anderson, for which ESPN later apologized.
“Other than that, was their any distraction whatsoever coming out of St. Louis with Michael Sam there?” Prisco asked. “He was there for four months. I don’t think there was. I just don’t think it’s a distraction. I think it’s a football decision.”