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    August 15, 2018 8:16 PM PDT

    ST. Abby Smith Jersey . LOUIS -- Not long after Michael Sam waved to an adoring crowd at Missouris season opener, he looked down at his cellphone. It was 3 p.m. CT, the deadline for NFL teams to pare rosters to 53 players. And the Rams coach was talking to the players who didnt make the cut. He headed into the locker room. At some point, his phone rang with the bad news: He didnt make the cut. Twenty others were cut by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday, all of them mere footnotes. For Sam, it meant a roadblock in his journey to become the first openly gay player to make an NFL roster. Over and over, coach Jeff Fisher said, it was purely a football decision. "I will tell you this: I was pulling for Mike," Fisher said. "I really was, and I dont say that very often. Mike came in here and did everything we asked him to do." The seventh-round draft pick projected confidence while scrutinized at least as closely as Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel. Hes been cheered by athletes and celebrities, denigrated by just a few. In the end, the defensive end couldnt make a team stocked with pass rushers and lost out to undrafted Ethan Westbrooks, who proved more productive and more versatile. Fisher believes Sam has an NFL future, and it still could be with the Rams. If hes not picked up by another team, he could land on the St. Louis practice squad. "I cant go there right now," Fisher said. "Coaches dont talk about practice squads because we have to see what happens. Well know better tomorrow afternoon." Wherever he lands, Fisher said "there will be no challenge, no challenges whatsoever." "Hes not about drawing attention to himself," Fisher said. "He kept his head down and worked and you cant ask anything more out of any player for that matter." On Twitter, roughly an hour after he was cut, Sam wrote "The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesson Ive always known. The journey continues." He also thanked the Rams and city of St. Louis on Twitter, adding that he looks forward to a long and successful career. Sam was introduced to the Missouri crowd in the end zone alongside defensive E.J. Gaines, a sixth-round pick who made the team. He blew a kiss and waved before returning to the sideline, then posed for a few pictures before starting to look at his phone, and then headed for the locker room. Fisher personally delivered the news to the 20 others released in meetings Friday and Saturday, but didnt seem to mind that Sam was out of town, visiting his alma mater. The conversation was perfunctory, with plans for a face-to-face meeting on Sunday. "He said Yes sir, and he said, I understand. He said, Thanks for the opportunity, and I said, Mike, Im looking forward to visiting with you tomorrow, and he goes, I am, too." Sam was the SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri and had been projected as a mid-round draft pick. His stock fell after a poor combine showing not long after he came out as gay in February, and the Rams took him with the 249th overall pick out of 256. He kissed his boyfriend as a national television audience looked on, and arrived brimming with confidence and with a quick retort for anyone who contended he was in the NFL only because he came out. Fisher was proud to have made the landmark pick, but made clear from the start that Sam would be judged on talent. The cameras followed, but the extra attention did not seem to faze Sam or his teammates. Veteran defensive end Chris Long noted rosters are always made up of players from different backgrounds. Players said Sam was part of their family. Sam shed weight before training camp to be faster for special teams duty, reporting at 257 pounds. But after the preseason opener, Fisher said hed have to make the team based on defensive end play. Sam came out publicly following his final season at Missouri, though he had told his teammates before it began. It was no distraction. Missouri tied the school record with 12 wins and won the SEC Eastern Division and Sam had 11 1-2 sacks. Sam was lightly regarded out of Hitchcock, Texas, a town of about 7,000 along the Gulf Coast about 40 miles southeast of Houston. His first two years at Missouri, Sam backed up Aldon Smith and Jacquies Smith, both of whom are in the NFL. From the start, teammates seemed to like having Sam around. His energy was infectious and, if there were problems, they stayed behind closed doors. Publicly, Sam was just another late-round pick trying to make the Rams, which, like other NFL teams, held sensitivity training early in camp. The Oprah Winfrey Network put off a planned documentary on Sam, saying it would allow him to focus on his dream. At one point, Sams Rams jersey was the No. 2 seller among rookies online, trailing only Clevelands Johnny Manziel, and Sam was among just 10 draftees selected by the NFL to be featured on commemorative coins. Sam headed to the ESPY Awards to pick up the Arthur Ashe Courage award. He got a hug from Hall of Famer Jim Brown on his way to the stage and fought back tears throughout his speech. He told the audience: "Great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself." Carli Lloyd Jersey .J. -- Patrick Sharp is on one of those streaks. Sam Mewis Jersey . Louis, MO (SportsNetwork. Rashard Mendenhall has had a pretty solid career. He rushed for over 1,000 yards on two occasions and appeared in two Super Bowls. However, at age 26, he decided to walk away from the game to explore some of his other interests, including writing. Mendenhall blogged about his retirement on Huffington Post. He writes: "I look forward to chasing my desires and passions without restriction, and to sharing them with anyone who wants to come along with me! And Ill start with writing!" Mendenhall also touches on some of his other interests in the blog: "Over my career, because of my interests in dance, art and literature, my very calm demeanor, and mmy apparent lack of interest in sporting events on my Twitter page, people in the sporting world have sometimes questioned whether or not I love the game of football. Crystal Dunn Jersey. I do. I always have. " But most prevalently, like other NFL players who have opted for early retirement, he cites health concerns: "I no longer wish to put my body at risk for the sake of entertainment. I think about the rest of my life and I want to live it with much quality. And physically, I am grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into it." 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