NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A longtime NFL reporter revealed Wednesday the NFL agreed to a deal where the Los Angeles Rams — then St. Louis — didn’t have to do HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series in 2014 if they drafted Michael Sam.
“Sources say NFL agreed not to have Rams on Hard Knocks in 2014 if they drafted Michael Sam,” Howard Balzer tweeted.
Sam was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. The Rams selected him in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Sam was not shocked by the report.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Sam tweeted.
Balzer reported the NFL was concerned Sam wouldn’t be drafted, so a deal was made with the Rams.
“Rams didn’t want Hard Knocks even without Sam. League concerned he wouldn’t be drafted. Deal made,” Balzer said.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher called the report “absolutely absurd.”
“That in itself is absolutely absurd, it’s 100 percent incorrect,” Fisher told ESPN’s “Mike and Mike” on Thursday. “I was really taken aback by those comments. It’s insulting, from my standpoint, as it relates to Michael. We had three seventh-round picks. When we drafted Michael he was the best player on the board. Who in their right mind would think that you give up a draft choice to avoid doing something like that?”
He continued, “It’s really unfair to Michael. Michael worked so hard. It’s really not fair to Michael because of all the hard work he put in.”
The Rams, who recently moved to Los Angeles, will be the featured team on “Hard Knocks” this year.
Sam, the former University of Missouri defensive end, was cut by the Rams before the beginning of the 2014 regular season. He was then signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad, where he only lasted seven weeks.
He signed a deal with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in 2015 but only played one game after leaving the team for mental health reasons.
“The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health. Because of this I am going to step away from the game at this time,” Sam said last August. “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 told Colin Cowherd in November he wished he wasn’t drafted.
“If I had my way, I really do wish I went undrafted,” Sam said at the time. “I could have actually went to a team who really needed pass rush, and needed a defensive end who could pass rush the quarterback. But the Rams, even though I learned a log from Chris Long and [Robert] Quinn, I think that I could have done better being on an active roster right now if I went to a different team.”
Sam said in January he’s going to give the NFL “one more shot.”
Sam was the former SEC defensive player of the year coming out of college .