Michael Sam is getting back on the football field.
The former Missouri standout, who was the first openly gay man to be drafted in the NFL, reached a deal to play for the Barcelona Dragons this season in the European League of Football, the team announced Wednesday. Sam spent last season working with the team as a defensive line coach.
Sam hasn’t played since a brief stint in the Canadian Football League in 2015. He retired soon afterward, citing mental health concerns.
Sam shined while at Missouri, racking up a career-high 47 tackles and 10 sacks during his senior season there in 2013. He came out as gay following that season, and was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round.
The Rams cut him before the 2014 season, and the Cowboys cut him after he spent about a month on their practice squad that year. Sam told Yahoo Sports in 2019 that he struggled in the years after he left football with drugs, alcohol and depression, but he has since recovered and has repaired his relationship with his family.
“I wish I was still playing football,” he told Yahoo Sports in 2019, “but I know if I was in the NFL I wouldn’t have a relationship with my family.”
Sam, now 33, will get another chance at football with the Dragons when they kick off their season on Sunday against the Stuttgart Surge. The 12-team league is in its second season this summer, and has plans to expand to four more European cities in 2023. Currently, the league has seven teams in Germany, two in Austria and a team in Spain, Poland and Turkey.