Michael Sam

Michael Sam's debut as an openly gay professional football player brought plenty of social significance -- but his presence made no difference on the field.

In his first competitive game since the 2014 NFL preseason, Sam underwhelmed for the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL.

The former seventh-round draft pick for the NFL's St. Louis Rams made it onto the field for just 12 snaps in the game, and didn't register a single statistic in a 26-23 loss at Ottawa.

It shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that Sam was a little rusty -- and even he admitted to being nervous before the game. The defensive lineman has been working to regain his conditioning after leaving the team for two weeks during the season earlier this summer.

And, according to the Ottawa Sun, that's the crux of some frustration his teammates have over the NFL hopeful. Sam has been earning a sizable $100,000 salary for the Alouettes, despite leaving the team during training camp without any promise of a return.

He wasn't eligible to take the field until this week, yet the team kept him on the active roster all the while -- ensuring his salary, even though he should have been demoted to the practice squad.

The Sun suggests that Sam's teammates feel he's being given preferential treatment by the Montreal organization.

It's possible the team sees him as a valuable talent that can contribute on the field at some point, but it also can't be ruled out that the team might value Sam for his promotional value -- the CFL team can always claim itself as an organization that helped break the sexual orientation barrier in professional football.

The growing sentiment in Canada is that Sam isn't doing enough to justify his paycheck and standing with the team. Those criticisms won't go away unless his on-field performance improves.

Meanwhile, Sam himself faces an even taller task: After this weekend's quiet outing, he might be farther than ever from the NFL.

More: Michael Sam Will Make Pro Football Debut With Montreal Alouettes Next Month