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Rams' Michael Sam becomes first openly gay player in NFL game

FootballCollege FootballPro FootballMichael SamMissouri TigersNFLSt. Louis Rams
Michael Sam makes his NFL debut with Rams, becomes first openly gay player to play in a game
Michael Sam says 'I can play in this league' after becoming first openly gay player in NFL game
Michael Sam enters in first quarter, collects first tackle

Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to appear in an NFL game on Friday when ran onto the field for the St. Louis Rams.

The Rams selected Sam with a seventh-round pick out of Missouri in the 2014 draft and put him to work with just over five minutes left in the first quarter of St. Louis' 26-24 exhibition loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Sam pressured and nearly wrapped up Saints third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin and got a hold of New Orleans running back Khiry Robinson at the line of scrimmage for his first NFL tackle.

A cheer rose up from the crowd of 54,850 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis when his name was announced after the play. 

"I make plays," Sam said, according to USA Today. "That's what you're supposed to do.

"When I'm in game mode, I stay in game mode. But if there was the crowd yelling for me, I think that's pretty cool."

No doubt, those cheers will be louder with a full stadium during a regular-season game if he's able to make the Rams' 53-man roster. 

Sam was the Southeastern Conference’s co-defensive player of the year last season, leading the conference with 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for a loss.

The 6-foot-2, 261-pound defensive end came out to his teammates and coaches before the start of his senior season, in which the Tigers won 12 games en route to an appearance in the SEC championship game  and a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State.

Like many seventh-rounders, Sam is battling for a roster spot. The Rams have depth at his position. 

"I was kind of nervous. I got some nerves out today," Sam said after the game. "It was a very good learning experience, and I can play in this league."

Twitter: @MattWilhalme

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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FootballCollege FootballPro FootballMichael SamMissouri TigersNFLSt. Louis Rams
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