IRVING, TEXAS – Michael Sam waded through a crowd of reporters and was settling in front of yet another bank of cameras when someone asked if this was what it was like in St. Louis.
“The heat?” Sam said, drawing laughter from two dozen or so people surrounding him as he stood in front of a large Dallas Cowboys star on a wall just outside the locker room.
No, the latest version of the circus after the league’s first openly gay player signed to Dallas’ practice squad. He’s unlikely to get into the opener Sunday against San Francisco and might still face long odds of joining an active roster anytime soon.
But Sam got his second chance to make it in the NFL four days after the Rams released the seventh-round pick when they had to cut the roster to 53 players.
“You guys follow me around like hawks,” Sam said after going through his first late-morning workout with the Cowboys. “I’ve been tired of it since February. I expected it.”
The Cowboys, who are seeking help with their pass rush because of injuries and the offseason release of franchise sacks leader DeMarcus Ware, expected it, too. Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten said coach Jason Garrett addressed the signing with the team.
“I think he does it as good as anybody I’ve ever been around, of addressing issues and moving forward and putting our focus on what it needs to be and that’s a good 49ers football team,” Witten said.
Garrett said the move was “about football” and deflected any questions about the impact of bringing in Sam or how it might affect the locker room.
“That’s your decision what question you want to ask,” Garrett told a larger-than-usual crowd at his daily news conference.
“We’re focused on football. That’s where our attention is, and what people say outside this organization is really up to them.”
Owner Jerry Jones said Rams coach Jeff Fisher spoke highly of how Sam fit in with his teammates there.