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Jeff Fisher responds to Jon Gruden's claim Roger Goodell pressured Rams to draft Michael Sam

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Among the many stunning and vile excerpts from Jon Gruden's emails that The New York Times revealed Monday was the use of a homophobic term when referring to the then-St. Louis Rams' decision to select Michael Sam - an openly gay defensive end - in the 2014 NFL draft.

Gruden's assertion that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pressured the Rams to draft Sam was challenged by the coach of the team at the time, Jeff Fisher.

"Michael Sam was the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2013, and we selected him in the 2014 NFL Draft based on his defensive production and pass rushing skill set on the field," Fisher wrote in a Twitter post. "As a head coach for over 20 years, we drafted or didn't draft, players based on a variety of qualities. Their sexual orientation would never - and should never - play a part in the decision-making process.

Jeff Fisher was a head coach in the NFL for 22 years, taking teams to the playoffs six times, including guiding the Tennessee Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV.
Jeff Fisher was a head coach in the NFL for 22 years, taking teams to the playoffs six times, including guiding the Tennessee Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV.

"I continue to support Michael, and his decision to come out as the first draft eligible openly gay player in the league. It took courage to serve as a role model for those competitive football players who may also happen to be gay.

"Lastly, the NFL never encouraged or discouraged me regarding the selection of a potential prospect."

Sam was a seventh-round selection, No. 249 overall, out of Missouri. He was among the final cuts as the Rams trimmed their roster to the 53-player limit ahead of the 2014 season. After a stint on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad and a short time in the Canadian Football League, Sam officially stepped away from professional football in August 2015.

MORE: DeMaurice Smith opens up on Jon Gruden, racism in the NFL and more

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Gruden's gripe about the Rams drafting Sam was notable in that Monday also was National Coming Out Day. After The New York Times story was published, a fan tweeted at Sam to thank him for being a role model. Sam responded with his gratitude.

Gruden resigned Monday night after The New York Times report became public. Longtime NFL assistant coach Rich Bisaccia will be the Raiders' interim head coach.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jeff Fisher: Rams didn't draft Michael Sam because of Roger Goodell

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