Despite no longer playing in the National Football League, Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, continues to pursue his love of football, taking on a job as a coach for a team in Spain.
Hired by the Barcelona Dragons, Sam, a former defensive end, will be an assistant defensive line coach, will be working with defensive linemen and edge rushers.
“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity joining the Barcelona Dragons organization,” Sam said in a statement published on the team’s Instagram page. “I want to thank GM Bart Iaccarino, HC Andrew Weidinger, and the Barcelona team. I hope to contribute however I can to help the defensive line to be the best pass rushers in the European League.”
Now 32 years old, Sam made history as the first openly gay player in the NFL when he was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014. Although he was part of the team’s official 90-man preseason roster, and played a few preseason games, he failed to make the final 53-man roster and never played in a regular season game. He was later picked up by the Dallas Cowboys and added to their practice squad, but was released before ever seeing the field.
In May 2015, Sam made history again, signing with a Canadian Football League team (the Montreal Alouettes) and becoming the first openly gay player in the CFL. His time in the CFL would be rocky; at one point, Sam returned to his home in Texas due to unstated personal reasons. However, Sam did get the opportunity to play in an actual game for the Alouettes.
Sam’s football playing career would come to an end just a couple months later with him announcing retirement in August 2015 for mental health reasons.
Though Sam’s time playing professional football was brief, he made history twice — becoming the first openly gay player in two separate leagues. Now, he will have a chance to carve an even more impactful legacy as a coach.