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#pounditTuesday, October 19, 2021

Jeff Fisher issues response to Jon Gruden’s Michael Sam email

Jeff Fisher on sidelines

Jeff Fisher on Tuesday issued a response on social media to an accusation made in one of the leaked Jon Gruden emails.

Gruden resigned on Monday as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after numerous offensive emails he wrote from his personal account were leaked to the media and became public. One of the offensive emails Gruden wrote to his friend and former coworker, Bruce Allen, on Allen’s work email address, was about Fisher and the Rams.

According to emails leaked to the New York Times, Gruden wrote to Allen that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “should not have pressured Jeff Fisher, then the coach of the Rams, to draft ‘queers,’ a reference to Michael Sam, a gay player chosen by the team in 2014.”

Fisher was the head coach of the Rams when Sam was drafted with the No. 249 pick in the 2014 draft. Sam, who was openly gay at the time, played college ball at Missouri, and was a “hometown pick” for the then-St. Louis Rams.

Fisher said in a statement that Sam was drafted based on his credentials as a football player.

“Michael Sam was the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and we selected him in the 2014 NFL Draft based on his defensive production and pass rushing skill set on the field,” Fisher wrote.

“As a head coach for over 20 years, we drafted or didn’t draft, players based on a variety of qualities. Their sexual orientation would never – and should never – play a part in the decision-making process.

“I continue to support Michael, and his decision to come out as the first daft eligible openly gay player in the league. It took courage to serve as a role model for those competitive football players who may also happen to be gay.

“Lastly, the NFL never encouraged or discouraged me regarding the selection of a potential prospect.”

Sam was cut by the Rams in training camp. Despite being added to other practice squads, he never played in an NFL game.

A 2016 report said the Rams were asked to draft Sam as part of an agreement with the league.

On Monday, Sam shared his first tweet following the Gruden email.

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