Go back and look at the list of SEC Defensive Players of the Year over the last decade or so, and it's quite possibly the most impressive, decorated, and eventually highly paid list of collegiate players for any single award in the game's history.
2012, Jarvis Jones, first round pick for the Steelers. 2011, Morris Claiborne, first round pick for the Cowboys. 2010, Patrick Peterson, first round pick for the Cardinals. 2009, Rolando McClain, first round pick for the Raiders. Eric Berry, Glenn Dorsey, Patrick Willis....
You see my point. Lots of great players.
So why do I know so much about the lineage of the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, you might ask? Well, because when the story of Michael Sam and his seeming inability to maintain a roster spot in the NFL comes up, we are reminded that he, the 2013 winner of the award, is the only one in forever to be taken outside of the first round.
He is also the only one who is openly gay. How those dots get connected inside the rooms of NFL personnel offices is anyone's guess, but that hasn't stopped people from guessing, and it's what's made Michael Sam number 6 on our 2014 King of Content countdown....
It was back in February when Michael Sam announced to the world something he had announced to his Missouri teammates before the 2013 season -- he is a gay man. And he would like to become the first openly gay NFL player. And then he was drafted in the seventh round by the Rams, and we all saw him share a special moment with his boyfriend (a moment the internet was either completely ready for or not ready for at all, depending on how you process internet humor).
Time eventually passed, the preseason came, and Sam sort of just blended into the tapestry of the NFL...until cut down time. ESPN's Josina Anderson was stationed at Rams' camp, and updated us on the exact thing we'd all been dying to know -- what are Michael Sam's locker room shower habits? Because we all wanted to know, right? (No, not really, I know...)
At this point, it was fairly evident that while an NFL locker room was coming around to processing an openly gay man in its midst, maybe the media and parts of society didn't quite fully grasp it yet. Michael Sam would end up getting cut by the Rams a few days later, not even kept on the practice squad.
There would be one more signing for Michael Sam during the 2014 season, a stint on Dallas' practice squad, which everyone figured was Jerry Jones on a publicity grab. Eventually, Dallas would cut Sam loose as well, so for now, Michael Sam, one of the biggest stories heading into the 2014 season, ends the season as a mere footnote and a free agent just trying to find a spot in this league.
The world is watching far less intently than we were nine months ago.
MICHAEL SAM POSTS IN 2014:
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