Firing your publicist and agent are pretty clear signs that things aren't going the way you'd like. But in Michael Sam's case, it's unclear whether those moves are an act of desperation, an excessive backlash over a disappointing run of events, or just the natural consequences of a career that isn't living up to his expectations.
After leaving the CFL's Montreal Alouettes and taking an extended break from professional football, Sam is back at his alma mater Missouri, working on a master's degree to prep for a career in broadcasting.
But he's busy in other ways, too: Sam told ABC 17 in Missouri that he's fired his agent and publicist, without going into details.
"I'm just focusing on me right now," he says.
He also believes his break from football will ultimately serve him in the long run -- including his effort to make it in the NFL for the 2016 season.
"I'll try to pursue my NFL career," Sam said. "Taking a break this year was very smart. I think it was one of the smartest things I've done in a long time."
Perhaps a mental break was in order, but in terms of meeting the physical challenges of playing football in the NFL, Sam's break isn't likely to help him much. Other than 12 snaps played for the Alouettes, Sam hasn't played in a live game since the 2014 preseason.
He hasn't been in the NFL since October 2014, when he was cut from the Dallas Cowboys' practice squad. That's a tough uphill battle for a guy already seen as an underdog to make an NFL roster.
Even so, Sam is working toward career options that don't include football. His experiences as a widely covered media entity, as well as his appearances on "Dancing with the Stars" and in a documentary aired by the Oprah Winfrey Network, have turned him on to a career in broadcasting.
"Since I came out [as gay] in February 2014, I realized that I've been in the media for so long and so much, that I've kind of gotten used to it," Sam told ABC 17. "I wanted to wet my feet a little bit and see if this could be a career of mine in the future."
Here's the video from ABC 17's interview with Sam: