(Reuters) - Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL, was suspended by the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes on Monday after the defensive lineman left the team’s training camp last week for unexplained personal reasons.
Sam walked away from the Alouettes on Friday, one day before the team’s pre-season opener, a 26-9 victory over the Ottawa Redblacks. By suspending Sam, the team freed up a roster spot and will retain his rights.
”There’s nothing to tell you. He wanted to go home, and that’s what he did,“ Alouettes General Manager Jim Popp told the Montreal Gazette. ”I don’t know why.
“When a guy wants to go home, they go home. He had some personal things to take care of.”
Popp said he would not be surprised if Sam returned.
”I‘m surprised he left,“ he said. ”I was very surprised. If he doesn’t come back, I would think football’s over for him. He’s the one that has to face that.
“But I don’t think he doesn’t want to play football. That’s why he came here.”
Sam’s representatives declined a request to comment.
The National Football League’s St. Louis Rams selected Sam in the seventh round of the 2014 draft but waived him in the final round of cuts. He was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys but they released him from their practice squad in October.
Sam played in college at the University of Missouri where he was the Southeastern Conference’s co-defensive player of the year in 2013.
The Alouettes, who signed Sam last month, open their season on June 25 at home against Ottawa.
Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney