Michael Sam steps away from football citing mental health

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Michael Sam Steps Away From Football, Cites Mental Health


Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player drafted by an NFL team, says he's stepping away from football after a difficult year.

The former Missouri defensive lineman tweeted Friday, "The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health. Because of this I am going to step away from the game at this time."

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Michael Sam steps away from football citing mental health
The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health. Because of this I am 1/3
going to step away from the game at this time. I thank the Alouettes for this opportunity and hope to be back on the field soon. Thank 2/3
you all for your understanding and support. 3/3
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It's been just over a year since Sam made his professional NFL debut in a preseason game playing for the St. Louis Rams. He's been dropped from two NFL teams since then, eventually signing a two-year deal to play in the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes.

SEE MORE: Michael Sam calls off 6-month engagement to Vito Cammisano

Sam's relationship with the Alouettes got off to a troubled start. He left the team early in preseason for personal reasons, and sat out the first five regular season games. His first appearance in the CFL was brief and uneventful — he was in for 12 plays and recorded no sacks or tackles.

In a statement, the Alouettes cited personal reasons for Sam's departure and said he will be placed on the team's suspended list.

Click through for more images of Michael Sam's journey:
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Michael Sam - updated 3/22/15
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Michael Sam steps away from football citing mental health
Montreal Alouettes defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to reporters after returning to practice with the Canadian Football League team Monday, June 29, 2015, in Montreal. Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team, could not make the roster of the St. Louis Rams and signed with Montreal. He left the Alouettes for what he said were personal reasons, but returned to the team this week. (AP Photo/Jimmy Golen)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 16: NFL player Michael Sam and fiance` Vito Cammisano attend the premiere of ABC's 'Dancing With The Stars' season 20 at HYDE Sunset: Kitchen + Cocktails on March 16, 2015 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 11: ***HOUSE COVERAGE*** Michael Sam at Azure Luxury Pool at The Palazzo in Las Vegas, NV on April 11, 2015. Credit: Erik Kabik Photography/Retna Ltd./MediaPunch/IPX
Jason Collins, left, and Michael Sam, right, attend the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Waldorf Astoria on Saturday, May 9, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 09: Nominee Jason Collins, Chris Stone and Michael Sam attend the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards In New York on May 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for GLAAD)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 06: NFL player Michael Sam attends the SEC Championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Missouri Tigers at the Georgia Dome on December 6, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16: Vito Cammisano and NFL player Michael Sam attend The 2014 ESPYS at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images For ESPYS)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16: NFL player Michael Sam accepts the Arthur Ashe Courage Award onstage during the 2014 ESPYS at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Defensive End Michael Sam, from Missouri, runs through a drill during the NFL Super Regional Combine football workout, Sunday, March 22, 2015, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Dallas Cowboys practice squad player defensive end Michael Sam speaks to reporters after team practice at the team's headquarters Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Defensive end Michael Sam, from Missouri, moves around a pylon during the NFL Super Regional Combine football workout, Sunday, March 22, 2015 in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Dallas Cowboys Michael Sam, center, talks on the field before the start of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Dallas Cowboys' Michael Sam laughs before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Dallas Cowboys practice squad player defensive end Michael Sam (46) looks around the field during team practice Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
EARTH CITY, MO - MAY 13: St. Louis Rams draft pick Michael Sam addresses the media during a press conference at Rams Park on May 13, 2014 in Earth City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - AUGUST 28: Defensive end Michael Sam #96 of the St. Louis Rams warms up prior to action against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
ST LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 16: Defensive end Michael Sam #96 of the St. Louis Rams in action during the preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Edward Jones Dome on August 16, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 8: Michael Sam #96 of the St. Louis Rams watches from the bench during the second half of a pre-season against the New Orleans Saints game at the Edward Jones Dome on August 8, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Saints beat the Rams 26-24. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys practice squad player defensive end Michael Sam (46) runs a drill during team practice Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam looks on during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesson I've always known. The journey continues.
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Robin Roberts talks to Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player who might be drafted into the NFL, on GOOD MORNING AMERICA, airing WEDNESDAY, MAY 7 (7-9am, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam takes part in positions drills during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 24: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam looks on during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 22: Former Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 22, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2012 file photo, Missouri's Michael Sam (52) runs onto the field along with their teammates before the start of an NCAA college football game against Georgia in Columbia, Mo. Sam was selected in the seventh round, 249th overall, by the St. Louis Rams in the NFL draft Saturday, May 10, 2014. The Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year last season for Missouri came out as gay in media interviews this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2014, file photo, Missouri's All-American defensive end Michael Sam claps during the Cotton Bowl trophy presentation at halftime of an NCAA college basketball game between Missouri and Tennessee in Columbia, Mo. Sam was selected in the seventh round, 249th overall, by the St. Louis Rams in the NFL draft Saturday, May 10, 2014. The Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year last season for Missouri came out as gay in media interviews this year. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File)
Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) warms up before the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)
FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2013, file photo, Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam takes up his position during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M in Columbia, Mo. Sam was selected in the seventh round, 249th overall, by the St. Louis Rams in the NFL draft Saturday, May 10, 2014. The Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year last season for Missouri came out as gay in media interviews this year. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) reacts after Auburn fumbled and Missouri recovered during the first half of the Southeastern Conference NCAA football championship game, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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