Michael Sam's football career will be over if he doesn't decide to return to the Montreal Alouettes, something he must realize, according to general manager Jim Popp.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he returns. I'm surprised he left. I was very surprised. If he doesn't come back, I would think football's over for him. He's the one that has to face that," Popp told the Montreal Gazette. "But I don't think he doesn't want to play football. That's why he came here."
Sam left the Alouettes on Friday on the eve of the team's exhibition opener. The Canadian Football League team said that Sam left training camp for personal reasons, saying in a statement that "the nature of this decision will remain confidential."
On Monday, the team suspended Sam, a move that frees a roster spot while allowing the Alouettes to retain his CFL rights.
The defensive end's departure came three weeks after he became the first openly gay player to sign in the CFL.
In his comments to the Montreal Gazette, Popp didn't elaborate much more on the reason for Sam's departure, other than "he wanted to go home."
Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, previously spent time with the St. Louis Rams, who released him last preseason, and the Dallas Cowboys as a member of their practice squad before being let go.
Popp speculated that the intense spotlight might have taken a toll on Sam.
"It's a huge story because everybody keeps hounding and hounding and hounding. Michael Sam just wants to be a football player," Popp told the newspaper. "I would think anybody that's 25 years old that has been going through it for a year and a half, it would have to affect him. I would think so. That's one reason he didn't want to do interviews and just concentrate on football."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.