(Reuters) - Defensive end Michael Sam was handed a lifeline in his bid to become the first openly gay player in the National Football League (NFL) when the Dallas Cowboys expressed interest on Tuesday in adding him to their practice squad.
According to multiple media reports, the Cowboys plan to bring the former University of Missouri standout to Dallas for a physical on Wednesday, with the intention of adding him to their 10-man practice squad.
Three days ago, Sam was cut from the St. Louis Rams’ final 53-man roster for the 2014 regular season, and on Sunday the 24-year-old Texan went unclaimed on waivers by any other NFL team.
His quest to become an NFL player looked even more remote on Monday when he failed to make the Rams’ 10-man practice squad.
The 6-feet-2 (1.88 m), 260-pound (118 kg) Sam became the first openly gay player to be selected in an NFL Draft when he was taken with the eighth last pick by the Rams in May.
But despite his success at Missouri, talent evaluators have said he might struggle in the NFL, perhaps too small to play regularly on the defensive line and not athletic enough to play in space as a linebacker.
However, Sam could prove to be a useful backup for the Cowboys because of their 4-3 scheme and a desperate need for help on defense.
There is currently only one openly gay player in North America’s four major professional sports leagues, basketball’s Jason Collins, who joined the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets last season.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue