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Michael Sam leaves the Montreal Alouettes for personal reasons

Michael Sam leaves the Montreal Alouettes for personal reasons
Michael Sam joins Alouettes teammates during warmups for a game against Ottawa on Aug. 7. (Justin Tang / Associated Press)

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in professional football, is leaving the Montreal Alouettes, citing concerns for his mental health.

The defensive lineman, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams but didn't make it in the NFL, told the Canadian Football League team on Friday of his intentions.

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He took to Twitter to send a three-part message about his decision.

"The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health," he wrote in his first tweet. "Because of this I am going to step away from the game at this time. I thank the Alouettes for this opportunity and hope to be back on the field soon. Thank you all for your understanding and support."

Sam first made headlines when he announced he was gay after his final season at Missouri. The Rams drafted him in the seventh round in 2014 but cut him in training camp. He spent the 2014 season on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad but never made their roster.

He made his debut last week in the Alouettes' seventh game of the season, a 26-23 loss to Ottawa. He was on the field for 12 plays but did not make a tackle.

Recently reports surfaced in Montreal that teammates were upset over preferential treatment given to Sam, who spent two weeks away from the team earlier this season for personal reasons.

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