The Los Angeles Rams announced Wednesday that they will appear in the HBO series "Hard Knocks." According to a new report, the team could have been on the show sooner if they didn't draft Michael Sam in 2014.
Sources told St. Louis radio station 590 The Fan the NFL agreed to not ask the Rams to appear on the HBO show if they drafted Sam, who was the sport’s first openly gay player. The Rams, then in St. Louis, were seen as a perfect fit for Sam because he attended Missouri, was the 2013 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and would have played under a coach who knew how to handle controversy.
The league can pick a team to appear on "Hard Knocks" if no team volunteers to do so. The NFL would have to choose a team that hasn’t appeared on the show in 10 years, doesn’t have a new head coach, or hasn’t made the playoffs for at least two years, according to 590 The Fan.
Coach Jeff Fisher opposed the team appearing on the show in 2014 and said it was “highly unlikely they’d ask us to do it,” according to the report.
“I think this organization has a right to go through training camp with some normalcy.” Fisher said at the time.
The Rams drafted Sam in the seventh round, but he didn’t make the final cut at the end of the season. His selection brought a whirlwind of media attention to that year's training camp. Controversy even surrounded questions reporters would ask players about having Sam in the locker room. Sam eventually was cut and found himself in the Canadian Football League in 2015.
Fisher appeared to change his tune about "Hard Knocks" Wednesday, saying in a statement, “This is an exciting time for our franchise. ‘Hard Knocks’ will be an outstanding way to bring our fans into our training camp and preseason, and give a glimpse of the hard work and dedication of our players, coaches and staff as we prepare for the 2016 season.”
This will be the Rams’ first season in Los Angeles since leaving in 1994.