Dallas Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett told reporters Wednesday that the team's signing of defensive end Michael Sam to the practice squad had nothing to do with the fact that the rookie is the first openly gay player ever to be selected in the NFL draft.
“This is about football," Garrett said. "We evaluated him as a football player and felt like he could help us as a football player. We want to see what he can do. Our attention and focus is on football. It’s on getting ready for the 49ers. That’s the culture that we have around here, that’s the culture that we continue to have."
Oh really? No sooner was Sam signed Tuesday morning than a report came from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the Cowboys plan to sell Sam's No. 46 jersey in the team's pro shop.
Um, since when are practice team jerseys available for sale? A shout out to Pro Football Talk, which had a clever headline that sums it all up in a nutshell: "Cowboy$ will $ell Michael $am practice $quad jer$ey$."
[Updated Sept. 4, 6:52 a.m.: A Cowboys spokesperson said later Wednesday that the team won't be selling Sam jerseys as long as he is on the practice squad.]
At the other extreme is Sam, who is definitely in football mode but may not realize exactly what it means to be on a practice squad.
"I look forward to putting my helmet and pads on every day to work my hardest to help bring a sixth Super Bowl Championship to Dallas!!" he tweeted Tuesday.
Let's swing back to Garrett, who seems to be a voice of reason down in Dallas. When he felt reporters were getting a bit carried away with the Sam questions, the coach reminded them that the Cowboys also recently picked up another defensive lineman, Lavar Edwards, who is actually expected to suit up for the team this week against San Francisco.
“We’ve got to be careful about spending too much time on a practice roster player," Garrett said.
Indeed we do. I'll shut up now.