Did the Rams draft Michael Sam as part of a deal with the NFL?

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The Question Michael Sam Asked Himself During the NFL Draft

The St. Louis Rams' selection of Michael Sam in the 2014 NFL Draft was controversial at the time and remains so to this day, for various reasons. But the most recent report is the most damning of all.

The report, coming from NFL reporter Howard Balzer, claims that the Rams drafted Sam at the request of the NFL, with the reward being a non-selection to appear on HBO's Hard Knocks.

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Sam, who has since fallen out of the NFL, wasn't all that surprised.

After learning of the news, LA Rams head coach Jeff Fisher vehemently denied that there was any such deal in place (via NBC Sports).

"That in itself is absolutely absurd, it's 100 percent incorrect," Fisher said. "I was really taken aback by those comments. It's insulting, from my standpoint, as it relates to Michael. We had three seventh-round picks. When we drafted Michael he was the best player on the board. Who in their right mind would think that you give up a draft choice to avoid doing something like that?"

The conspiracy theory goes on to claim that the NFL instructed teams that followed St. Louis in the draft to not select Ethan Westbrooks -- the player St. Louis truly wanted to draft instead of Sam. The hole in this theory is that the Rams owned the draft pick immediately after the one they used on Sam, and still neglected to select Westbrooks.

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It's a shaky story, but the idea that the NFL was up to more shady business -- asking a team to save the league of bad PR in exchange for a favor down the road -- is alarming.

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Did the Rams draft Michael Sam as part of a deal with the NFL?
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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