Friday, April 20, 2018
Sports

'My job is to focus on football'

ST. LOUIS — Rams defensive end Michael Sam gained international fame as the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. He would much rather be known as an exceptional football player.

"I'm determined to be great," Sam, 24, said at Rams Park during his introductory news conference Tuesday. "I'm going to train hard and try to make this team."

He accepts his standing as a role model but prefers to define himself as an athlete. "I will always support equality, period," said the seventh-round pick and SEC co-defensive player of the year out of Missouri. "But my job is to focus on football and help this team win a championship."

His first news conference as an NFL hopeful drew more than 80 media types and satellite trucks crowded the parking lot.

Browns: Cornerback Joe Haden signed a five-year, $68 million extension Monday, the total value surpassing cornerback Richard Sherman's four-year, $57 million deal last week with Seattle. The former Gator's contract runs through 2019 and includes $45 million guaranteed, agent Drew Rosenhaus told the Associated Press. The package also contains a $14 million signing bonus.

Jaguars: Receiver Justin Blackmon's name plate was removed from atop his locker Tuesday, and the team placed rookie quarterback Stephen Morris from Miami in the stall. Blackmon, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, is suspended without pay indefinitely for repeated violations of the league's substance-abuse policy.

Panthers: Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy spent Tuesday night in jail after being arrested on misdemeanor charges of assault on a female and communicating threats. He turned himself in and was transferred to the custody of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office. It's normal procedure for suspects in domestic violence cases to be denied bond as part of a 24-hour cooling off period. Hardy, 25, signed a franchise tag tender in March and will make $13.116 million this season if he doesn't sign an extension before July 15.

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