Steelers rookie says Sam, his former roommate, has changed
Eric Waters watched ESPN's “Outside the Lines” interview with Michael Sam just like everybody else.
The Steelers undrafted free agent tight end closely followed Sam's progression from the interview announcing that he was gay to the overwhelming swell of publicity that came with it to becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL when St. Louis drafted him in the seventh round of May's draft.
The more Waters watched, the more he shook his head.
The guy Waters got to know so well at Missouri isn't the guy on display for the world to see now — at least that's how his former roommate feels.
“He is a nice guy, but I will say the truth: A little bit of him has changed,” Waters said. “It is really not my situation to speculate at this point, but he is not the same Michael Sam anymore.”
Waters roomed with Sam and freshman linebacker Eric Beisel last year at Missouri and considered Sam a good friend.
“Just the way he acts and carries himself,” Waters said when asked what's changed with Sam. “I was watching the NFL Network the other day and I think it was Marshall Faulk who said that he keeps referring to himself in the third person as Michael Sam this, Michael Sam that. That's not the same guy we knew back when we were living together. He is not the same fun-loving, joking guy that really didn't care about stuff like publicity.”
According to Waters, the two don't talk anymore.
“I don't know if that is because he is more focused on the fame and the opportunity he has now or whatever,” Waters said.
It's not the first time Waters made a public comment about his former roommate. After Sam made his announcement in February, Waters tweeted: “Half of y'all posting these pics saying how proud you are. But most of y'all was the ones talking (expletive) behind his back in the locker room.”
Waters wasn't one of those guys. He said he never had an issue with Sam being gay.
“Like I tell everybody else, I don't care about your sexual preference or if you are black or white or freaking purple,” Waters said. “As long as you can play football, that's all that matters. We had a common denominator: We were brought to the same university because we had the ability to play football. That's all that matters.”
Sam continues to attract attention daily in St. Louis even though he is a borderline roster player on a team loaded at his position on the defensive line.
The same can be said about Waters, who left practice Thursday with a lower back injury only hours after making the comments about Sam.
Waters was an afterthought at Missouri. He caught eight passes and started only four games as a senior despite starting double-digit games his first three years.
“I wasn't given the opportunity like everybody else,” Waters said. “Not to down any of those coaches or anybody else, a lot of stuff was handed to people, and I was the guy who had to work for everything but it still wasn't good enough.”
The lack of opportunities for Waters put his draft stock in serious jeopardy.
“I knew for a fact that once they saw my athleticism and once they saw that I can actually catch the ball and run routes (that somebody would take notice),” Waters said.
Waters has shown his versatility through the first week of camp. He's displayed athletic ability, but also has shown that he can block — something the Steelers require from their tight ends.
With not a lot of depth behind Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth, Waters could be a contender for a roster spot.
“It is good to do one thing really great, but when you can do multiple things great, you will be so much better off,” Waters said. “That is just my mindset.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Steelers’ tarnished Bell rings true
- Tomlin gives suggestion Steelers won’t be shy about going for 2
- Steelers’ Brown: Attendance ‘never a doubt’ for offseason workouts
- Steelers notebook: LB Harrison open for larger role
- Steelers offensive line targeting injury-free performance as key
- Steelers’ Heyward looking to stay for long haul
- Steelers interested in playing internationally again
- Former Steelers kicker Reed doesn’t like new NFL PAT rule
- Steelers guard Foster likes offense’s direction heading into season
- NFL moves PAT back to 15-yard line