The St. Louis coach, who drafted Missouri defensive end Michael Sam with his team's penultimate pick, says he won't hesitate to cut the first openly gay NFL player if Sam can't help a defense that was ranked 15th in 2013.
DAN PATRICK:When did Michael Sam's name come up on the final day of the draft?
May 19, 2014
JEFF FISHER: We were about four or five picks away.
DP:Was Sam's subpar combine workout a concern?
JF: Some guys play better than they work out. In Michael's case, it was his production on the field. [He was] the SEC co--Defensive Player of the Year. You can't neglect the production. That's pretty much why he's a Ram now.
DP:How important was it for Michael Sam to be drafted?
JF: I think it was important for him, considering where we are in dealing with social issues, inclusion and diversity. Again, we drafted the football player. I think that's important to point out.
DP:Did the NFL encourage teams to draft Sam?
JF: I think the league was hopeful that he would get drafted, but the league allows us to make our own personnel decisions.
DP:So the league did not call you?
JF: Absolutely not. We had no contact with the league on any player.
DP:You pointed out that you cut Jarrett Payton, your friend Walter's son. So you would cut Sam?
JF: Absolutely. He's a Ram because of the draft process. He's going to do the same thing every other rookie does. Unfortunately, you can't keep everybody. Mike Sam has the athletic ability to have a good shot. He's going to have to take advantage of his opportunity.
DP:Describe the phone call with Sam.
JF: This phone call thing for every player is really special. We try to make it that way. There are few things in life better than that phone call—probably having children. Obviously it was emotional for Michael. Once we got off the phone, he was able to settle down. [We] got back on the phone an hour later, and he was very excited.
DP:What impact did moving the draft back two weeks have?
JF: Two weeks longer makes it a little more difficult on the rookies. After the combine, their conditioning level tends to decline.
DP:Did you try to trade Sam Bradford?
JF: No. We made absolutely no calls in respect to that.
DP:Did you take phone calls?
JF: No, we received none.
DP:Did you consider drafting Johnny Manziel?
JF: We worked Johnny out and felt Johnny was a good player. He's going to be an outstanding player. But we had a starting quarterback and felt that we were better suited going in a different direction.
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