Lost amidst the 49ers news of the day is word that an NFL team that needed significant help on the defensive side of the ball has signed a defensive end to their practice squad.
OK, it's a slightly bigger deal than that. The Dallas Cowboys announced on Wednesday that they signed former St. Louis Rams draft pick Michael Sam to join their practice squad. Sam was drafted in the seventh round this past year, and released during final roster cuts.
Over the holiday weekend, I got a little bit fired up over the reports of anonymous general managers expressing concern about the "media circus" surrounding media circus. I can see why people think I overreacted to certain aspects of it, but I think given the significance and the history of this league, I think much of my commentary was fair. And for people complaining about the big deal being made about this, well, it is a big deal. Michael Sam is not the first gay man to sign with an NFL roster or practice squad, but he is the first publicly open gay man to do so. Given the historical oppression and bigotry levied against the gay community, this is a huge deal.
My use of "incompetent" led to plenty of jokes once word got out that the Cowboys signed Sam. Signing him certainly does not prove Jerry Jones is a competent GM. However, I will give him props for recognizing the team needs to develop defensive talent for a defense that is absolutely abysmal. The San Francisco 49ers have some questions about what their offensive game plan will look like on Sunday, but against that Cowboys defense, we have to expect success from the 49ers offense.
I don't expect to see Sam promoted to the 53-man roster this week. However, given the state of the Cowboys defense, I would be a little bit surprised if he does not earn a promotion before the end of the season. Sam is still a developmental prospect, but there is an opportunity for him if he can show progress in the coming weeks.
From a "media circus" standpoint, I think we can all assume Sam will be mentioned in Sunday's broadcast, but he is just one of several off-the-field stories that will end up in the discussion. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are handling the broadcast, and it is safe to say they will have some thoughts on Ray McDonald's arrest, Aldon Smith's suspension, and whatever might be going on off the field for the Cowboys. I'm curious to see how they handle the numerous off-the-field storylines in this game.