Michael Sam is about to be a Dallas Cowboy.
Outsports has confirmed the Cowboys are bringing Sam to Dallas for a physical and have the intention of signing him to their practice squad. That would make him the first openly gay member of a regular-season team.
Adam Schefter and Ian Rapaport have also confirmed the news:
Cowboys plan to bring Michael Sam to Dallas for a physical Wednesday, per team source. If all goes well, Sam will be a Cowboy.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter)September 2, 2014
Michael Sam flies in to Dallas tonight, source says. He’ll take a physical. If he passes, he will join their practice squad.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet)September 2, 2014
The Cowboys, by the way, were Sam’s favorite team while he was growing up in Texas.
The Cowboys happen to play the St. Louis Rams in week 3.
Last year the Cowboys had the third-worst pass defense and the worst overall defense in the NFL, allowing over 415 yards per game. They recorded only 34 sacks on the season, and quarterbacks racked up a 96.0 average passer rating against them.
These are not good numbers. Sam can have an immediate impact on the team in the coming weeks.
The Cowboys were always a potential great fit for Sam on the field. They currently have five defensive ends on the active roster, the fifth of which is Lavar Edwards whom they acquired in a trade from Tennessee this weekend. They also have DE Kenneth Boatright on the practice squad. Edwards graded out at -1.7 by Pro Football Focus in the preseason; Sam graded at +0.6.
Tyrone Crawford, a backup defensive end on the squad, spent last season on injured reserve.
These spots are all up for grabs for a guy like Sam, meaning there are far more opportunities to make the active roster with the Cowboys than existed with the D’line-heavy Rams.
Mea culpa here - I said pretty loudly early this year that I didn’t think the Cowboys were a great fit for Sam for other reasons, namely leadership. I’ve learned a lot about the NFL in the last six months. Sam and his Rams teammates taught me a lot about where NFL locker rooms really are today.
While I thought six months ago that Sam could be just a circus act in Dallas, I haven’t thought that for months as I learned more about how teams - including the Cowboys - really operate. I’ve spent much of the last 48 hours very publicly wondering why the Cowboys have not brought him in. I’ve feared that it was trepidation about how fans in Texas would react to their beloved Cowboys signing a gay player.
Today they put those fears to rest and made a great football decision. It’s the perfect football fit for Sam, and I think Dallas is a powerful landing spot for him.
Culturally, this signing would be an earthquake. Texas is held up by the gay community as this country’s great bastion of homophobia. For the revered Cowboys to bring him in and sign him would send a very clear message that yes, at the end of the day, the NFL is a true meritocracy. If the Cowboys make the move, this is the second team in the Bible Belt to sign Sam.
On Wednesday, the Dallas Cowboys could become a model for inclusion.