Cowboys 'Family' Welcomes Michael Sam

IRVING - Michael Sam took to the Cowboys practice field on Wednesday and was greeted by welcoming words from team leaders like Romo and Dez - a positive sign for the NFL's first openly gay player but also an indication that the newly signed rookie defensive end isn't just any practice-squad scrub.

"I'm trying to help the Dallas Cowboys any way I can so I can earn a spot on this team and help our team win games," said Sam on Wednesday as he faced a Valley Ranch media mob usually reserved for performers of Romo and Bryant's level. "I just want to do anything I can. .. Special teams, left end, right end, whatever. Want me to hold the ball? I'll do it to perfection."

Sam, the seventh-rounder released by the Rams last week after a stellar college career at Missouri, did at least one thing near-perfection there: rush the passer. His decision to reveal his sexuality last year is what takes his signing to another level and beyond football. As we reported here yesterday, multiple team leaders (including Anthony Spencer, Barry Church and Dez Bryant) were contacted on Tuesday by owner Jerry Jones to alert them to the coming news.

""He deserves the same respect as anybody else,'' Bryant said. "That’s what we’re going to give him – that, and 'play football.'"

It's too early to judge whether Sam (who lacks idea size and speed and remains, in the view of the Dallas scouting department, a player not worthy of a draft pick) will ever do that; this is essentially a high-profile tryout. But no matter Sam's future, he's got a present. And Romo and company are handling that present graciously.

“Everyone has different politics, religion, views on things, and I think what you find in the locker room is no one cares,’’ Tony Romo said. “It’s about can you help this football team win. ... We’re always bringing in people to help the football team. If he can help us, it’s a bonus and we’ll be lucky to have him. It’s just part of the whole process.’’

Romo was among the many Cowboys players who used the word "family'' when discussing the signing of Sam.

“I’m excited,'' safety J.J. Wilcox said. "He’s a great football player. I don’t take nothing away from him, I have nothing against him. If he can help me win, I’m all in. ... he's a member of our family.''

Added running back DeMarco Murray: “I didn’t really have a reaction (to news of Sam's signing). Just like my reaction to when they signed other practice-squad guys. It’s not a big deal. If he’s here to help us win, you know, treat him like any other guy.”

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