Michael Sam's chances of playing professional football hang in the balance, this according to Montreal Alouettes General Manger Jim Popp.
The Canadian Football league franchise gave Sam - the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL - an opportunity to play football for the first time in 12 months when they signed him to a two-year deal back in May.
Word of warning
But, after the former Missouri DE mysteriously left their training camp last week to return home, Popp has issued a warning about what could happen if he opts not to return in the near future.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he returns. I'm surprised he left," began Popp before spelling out exactly what a no-show would mean for Sam's future.
"If he doesn't come back, I would think football's over for him. He's the one that has to face that. But I don't think he doesn't want to play football. That's why he came here."
With Sam having had to battle stigma over his sexuality and concerns over whether he is physically capable of making it in the pros, his decision to leave the CFL team's training camp at such short notice certainly appears to have played into his critics' hands.
Door still open
The GM's comments come on a day when Michael Sam was officially moved onto the team's suspended list.
Popp, though, remains behind the former SEC Defensive Player of the Year and has left the door firmly open for Sam to return:
"“With all due respect for Michael Sam, the nature of this decision will remain confidential. The Montreal Alouettes fully respect Michael Sam’s decision and rally around him to offer him all time and support needed.
"The team has left the door open and Michael is welcome to come back whenever he feels ready.”
Although the Montreal Alouettes are remaining coy on exactly what led to Michael Sam's departure last week there has been some speculation in the media.
One report, citing a source within the franchise, claimed that it is "virtually guaranteed" that Sam will not return.
Others suggest that Sam left the team having been irked by the comments of a teammate who allegedly told the defensive end that he was under-performing at training camp.
Michael Sam's journey into the pro game has certainly not been a simple one thus far. Whether that journey ends now appears to be solely in his hands.
NFL fans: Did Michael Sam show enough in his college career to prove he can make it, or is his career a non-starter? Have your say in the comments below...
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