IRVING, Texas --- Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said today that the move to add defensive end Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player, to the team's practice squad was strictly a football decision.
During a regularly scheduled news conference, Garrett addressed the addition of Sam without once referencing Sam's sexuality or the significance of signing him and repeated that his arrival is strictly to help the team at a position of need.
"This is about football," Garrett said. "We evaluated him as a football player and felt he could help us as a football player. We want to see what he can do. Our attention and focus is on football."
Calling Sam a "very good" college player, Garrett said Sam's collegiate track record speaks for itself. Garrett added that while he did not speak directly with St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher, he received "good reports from a number of people about (Sam)" in St. Louis.
The St. Louis Rams selected Sam, who was last season's SEC co-defensive player of the year while playing at Missouri, in the seventh round of the NFL draft – the 249th pick overall -- but cut him this weekend. Born in Galveston, Texas, Sam cleared waivers without any team putting in a claim.
Sam collected three sacks and 11 tackles in the preseason. But the Rams have a stout defensive line.
"He did some good things there," Garrett said. "One of the things he got caught up with in St. Louis is that they have a really good defensive line."
By the time Sam was selected in the draft, the Cowboys had already passed on him three times in the seventh round.
The Cowboys are seeking help defensively after allowing the most yards in franchise history last season. Second-round pick DeMarcus Lawrence is sidelined with a foot injury. George Selvie has a shoulder injury.
What's more, Sean Lee is sidelined for the year with a torn ACL and they also lost DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher in the offseason.
"We feel like he (Sam) has a chance to come in at a position we have tried to address throughout the offseason and training camp and compete for a spot," Garrett said.