Michael Sam 'refocused' on trying to make NFL roster in 2016

Michael Sam, who announced in August that he was stepping away from professional football, said Thursday that he is "refocused" and plans on trying to make an NFL roster in 2016.

Sam began the season with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes before leaving the team because of what he said was a tumultuous past year -- to the point that he was worried about his own mental health.

He has since been at the University of Missouri, where he has been working on his master's degree.

"I'll try to pursue my NFL career," Sam told ABC-17 in Missouri on Thursday. "Taking a break this year was very smart. I think it was one of the smartest things I've done in a long time.

"Right now, I'm just focusing on me and what my needs are," added Sam, who said he has fired his agent and publicist and is focusing on his media training. "It's been a roller coaster. I've been trying to figure out what's next in my life."

The first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, Sam agreed to a two-year deal with the Alouettes this past summer. He left training camp June 12, citing personal reasons, and sat out the team's first five games. He failed to record a tackle in his Alouettes debut Aug. 7.

Sam, the 2013 SEC defensive player of the year at Missouri, was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams but did not make the team. He spent some time on the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad before being released.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.