During Tuesday’s news conference to introduce the draft picks at Rams Park in Earth City, general manager Les Snead kicked off the session for the third-day selections with a request.

“We’re going to ask Demetrius (Rhaney) the first question,’’ Snead pointed out. “Since we picked Michael (Sam) at 249, and Demetrius at 250, I’m not sure if anybody knows we actually drafted Demetrius.”

Shortly after making the historic selection of Mizzou defensive end Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL, the Rams closed out their 2014 draft with Rhaney, a 6-foot-2, 301-pound center from Tennessee State.

“I had just talked to Les Snead a while before and he was telling that they had two picks coming up and that they were going to pick someone at 249 and I’d be right after that,’’ Rhaney said Saturday, not long after the seventh-round choices were made. “I didn’t know it was Michael Sam, but I was very happy for him once they called his name.’’

Rhaney said he didn’t have a problem with a gay teammate.

“He’s like a brother now,’’ he said. “That’s my teammate. We’re ready to play some football.’’

Rhaney, who played two seasons at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa before making starts in 22 of 23 games for the Big Blue, has an intriguing story of his own.

His mother died when he was in seventh grade. During Rhaney’s senior year in high school, his grandmother and great-grandmother passed away — on the same day.

“My grandmother passed that morning, at like 4 that morning and then my great-grandmother passed that night at like 10,’’ the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native said Tuesday. “I just toughed it out. ... I’m here and I’m thankful.

“I know they’re looking down on me proud.’’


• Quarterback Garrett Gilbert, a sixth-round choice from SMU, said he’s eager to compare St. Louis-style barbecue to that of his native Texas. When asked about toasted ravioli, he said “I’ll have to put that on my list.’’

• CafePress has a new line of Michael Sam “SAM I AM, I AM RAM” T-shirts.

Joe Lyons is a Rams reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.