Michael Sam is taking some time away from the football field.
The 25-year-old defensive lineman announced through his verified Twitter account he will be stepping aside from the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes for personal reasons.
“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. I thank the Alouettes for this opportunity and hope to be back on the field soon. Thank you all for your understanding and support.”
The Alouettes organization confirmed in a press release Sam has left the club for “personal reasons” and that he has been added to the team’s suspended list.
Sam became the first active pro football player who is openly gay after making his CFL debut for the Als in their loss to the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 8. He was used sparingly and only took part in a handful of plays, finishing with no tackles. He didn’t dress this week and was put on the injured list when Montreal played the Edmonton Eskimos Thursday night.
The Texan was a former SEC co-defensive player of the year in his senior season at the University of Missouri. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft, but failed to make their lineup. After a short spell with the Dallas Cowboys on their practice roster, he signed a two-year contract with the Alouettes.
Sam also missed part of Montreal’s training camp to attend personal matters but returned June 29.