Michael Sam made his NFL debut on Friday, making him the first openly gay player to appear in a game. Sam, who played as a reserve defensive end, ran out onto the field in the first quarter to play against the New Orleans Saints. The crowd of 54,850 in St. Louis cheered when his name was announced after his first NFL tackle against New Orleans running back Khiry Robinson at the line of scrimmage, and putting the pressure on Saints' third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin.
"When I'm in game mode, I stay in game mode," he later told USA Today. "But if there was the crowd yelling for me, I think that's pretty cool."
New Orleans still beat the St. Louis Rams 26-24 in the exhibition game.
Sam is still battling for a spot on the 53-man roster for the regular season, as the team has depth in his position. According to the New York Daily News, Sam had dropped some weight to also open himself up for a special teams option. One scouts told USA Today that Sam still does not seem strong enough for his position on the defensive side.
"He does fly around a little bit," the scout said. "He's a good hustle player. I just wonder if that's enough. He's a stiff dude. But if you can run and hustle, you give yourself a chance."