St. Louis Rams Cut Gay Sam

first_imgST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Rams have cut Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team.The seventh-round pick has been outspoken and confident as his progress was watched as closely as any rookie in the league. He has been cheered by athletes and celebrities. In the end, the defensive end couldn’t make a team stocked with pass-rushers.Sam still has a chance to get picked up by another team or to make the Rams’ practice squad.“There will be no challenge, no challenges whatsoever,” for whatever team picks up Sam, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said at a news conference.“There’s no challenge with respect to Mike Sam,” Fisher said. “He’s not about drawing attention to himself. He kept his head down and worked and you can’t ask anything more out of any player for that matter.”On Twitter, roughly an hour after he was cut, Sam wrote “The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesson I’ve always known. The journey continues.”He also thanked the Rams and city of St. Louis on Twitter, adding that he looks forward to a long and successful career.Earlier Aug. 30, he attended Missouri’s opener in Columbia, a 1 1/2-hour drive west on I-70 from Rams Park. He was introduced to the crowd in the end zone alongside defensive E.J. Gaines, a sixth-round pick who made the team.Sam blew a kiss and waved to the crowd, then walked back to the sideline. He posed for a few pictures then started looking at his phone and headed for the locker room.The Rams selected Sam, the SEC co-defensive player of the year at Missouri, with the 249th overall pick out of 256 overall. He kissed his boyfriend as a national television audience looked on, and arrived brimming with confidence and with a quick retort for anyone who contended he was in the NFL only because he came out.Fisher was proud to have made the landmark pick, but he made clear from the start that he chose Sam because he thought he had the talent to make it.The cameras followed, but the extra attention did not seem to faze Sam or his teammates. Veteran defensive end Chris Long noted rosters are always made up of players from different backgrounds. Players said Sam was part of their family.Fisher called the draft pick a “second historic moment” for a franchise that signed running back Kenny Washington in 1946 as the league’s first black player in the modern era, but he was most interested in describing Sam as a way to upgrade the Rams’ defense.So was General Manager Les Snead, who referred to Sam after the draft as a “designated pass rusher.” Sam also shed weight to be faster for special teams duty, reporting at 257 pounds.After the Rams’ first preseason game, a 26-24 loss to New Orleans, Fisher said Sam played “pretty well” but also made his share of mistakes. Sam, who was credited with one tackle and one quarterback hit in the game, emerged with confidence.“You know, I can play in this league,” Sam said. “I can play in this league.”Sam came out following his final season at Missouri, though he had told his teammates before it began. The Tigers went on to tie a school record with 12 wins. Sam had 11 1/2 sacks and the lightly-regarded Tigers won the SEC Eastern Division, a huge step forward after going 5-7 during the first season in their new conference.“If you look at our season, it didn’t hurt us at all,” recalled cornerback Gaines, a fellow rookie and former Missouri teammate. “If anything, it brought us closer.”Sam was lightly regarded out of Hitchcock, Texas, a town of about 7,000 along the Gulf Coast about 40 miles southeast of Houston. His first two years at Missouri, Sam backed up Aldon Smith and Jacquies Smith, both of whom are in the NFL.The Rams drafted Sam even though they didn’t need help at defensive end, where they have a pair of first-round picks as starters. The Rams were so well-stocked with picks, taking 11 players overall, they had leeway to take a shot. Fisher said Sam’s value as a player “was off the charts.”“I’m determined to be great,” Sam said at his introductory news conference, packed with reporters. “I understand that right now you guys want to make a big deal of it.”From the start, teammates seemed to like having Sam around. His energy was infectious and, if there were problems, they stayed behind closed doors.Publicly, Sam was just another late-round pick trying to make the Rams, which, like other NFL teams, held sensitivity training early in camp. The Oprah Winfrey Network put off a planned documentary on Sam, saying it would allow him to focus on his dream of making the team.At one point, Sam’s Rams jersey was the No. 2 seller among rookies online, trailing only Cleveland’s Johnny Manziel, and Sam was among just 10 draftees selected by the NFL to be featured on commemorative coins.Sam headed to the ESPY Awards to pick up the Arthur Ashe Courage award. He got a hug from Hall of Famer Jim Brown on his way to the stage and fought back tears throughout his speech.“Great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself,” he told the audience.(R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

Valcourt rejects Bellegardes invitation to meet with AFN executive

first_imgJorge Barrera APTN National NewsAboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has turned down an invitation offered by Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde to meet with the organization’s chiefs executive early next week.Valcourt’s office said late Wednesday afternoon the minister would not accept Bellegarde’s invitation, but instead send his department’s deputy minister Colleen Swords.“While the minister can’t attend, he has asked that his deputy minister attend on his behalf,” said an emailed statement from Valcourt’s office.Bellegarde issued the invite as an olive branch to Valcourt during a meeting between the two men in Quebec City this past Monday.Valcourt’s office described the meeting as “productive” and that “both parties agreed to keep in touch on issues that matter to First Nations.”The minister’s rejection of the invitation seems in line with the more aggressive posture Valcourt has taken toward the AFN and on his portfolio in general.It was unclear as of this article’s posting whether the AFN executive, which is comprised of chiefs representing 10 regions from across the country, would accept to meet with the deputy minister instead of Valcourt.APTN National News could not immediately reach the AFN for comment.The AFN executive is meeting next Monday and Tuesday.Bellegarde sent a note to the chiefs executive Monday following his meeting with Valcourt saying he had issued the invitation to the minister.“The purpose of the meeting was to open lines of communications and to outline priorities,” wrote Bellegarde, in the note, which was obtained by APTN.Bellegarde said in the note he planned to provide a more detailed update during next week’s planned chiefs executive meeting.Privately, however, Bellegarde has told chiefs the minister was cordial but “kind of cold” during their encounter.Bellegarde was scheduled to meet with NDP leader Thomas Muclair Wednesday [email protected]@JorgeBarreralast_img read more

10 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Online Payroll Provider

first_img Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Register Now » October 7, 2013 2. What is your pricing structure? The majority of online payroll providers charge a base monthly subscription fee, which can generally range between approximately $12 per month to upwards of $200 per month, depending on the breadth of services you opt for. On top of your monthly fee, you can also expect to pay anywhere between $1.50 and $5 per month per employee.Several providers offer free trials, which typically range from one to two months in duration. That way you can test-drive the service before committing your hard-earned cash.3. How will I get set up? Once you decide on and sign up with an online payroll vendor, you should be able to immediately log in to your user dashboard, configure your account, and add employees and users. You should also have the ability to access your account and run payroll from any internet-enabled device, including your laptop, tablet or smartphone.4. How does your service handle payroll taxes? In addition to payroll processing services, a good online payroll service should also handle all of your payroll tax compliance needs accurately and on time, Reeves says. That includes federal and state income and unemployment tax and state unemployment insurance.The vendor should also process your year-end 1099 and W-2 forms for your employees.Reeves cautions that business owners should be “wary of providers that charge extra fees for calculating, paying and filing your payroll taxes or require you to go into their applications to do all of these actions on your own.”Instead, he suggests seeking out a full-service provider that can take care of all of your government tax compliance requirements, including state and federal tax payments, quarterly and annual filings — automatically and paperlessly — with no actions required on your end.5. How secure is your service? Being completely confident that your company’s private accounting information stays out of the hands of hackers is paramount when it comes to storing your sensitive, critical payroll data in the cloud. You’ll want to verify that vendors keep data safe using the highest encryption standards available, including something called 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard encryption, which helps defend against login and password theft.Most modern online payroll solutions leverage the same security technology that online banking services use, Reeves says. All of your account information, including passwords, social security numbers and personally identifiable information should also be protected by firewalls and two-factor authentication. Additionally, it should be continuously backed up to multiple secure locations throughout the day, every day to ensure that your information is available no matter what.6. Where is your data center and how safe is it? It’s important to know how a potential online payroll provider protects its data centers — which will hold your sensitive financial information — from break-ins and natural disasters.They should have multiple layers of security, including biometric scanning for controlled access, as well as keycard, retina scan and PIN number restrictions. Also, security cameras should monitor all of the provider’s locations around-the-clock, along with onsite staff to protect against unauthorized entry.7. What customer support services do you offer? Business owners should expect live, real-person support via email, phone and chat, in addition to detailed online FAQs and tutorials, Reeves says. If you expect 24/7 customer service, even on holidays, be sure to ask if the vendor can accommodate that.However, if you’re calling a support line on a regular basis, then that means the product is not doing its job, Reeves warns. “If you choose an online payroll solution that’s designed to be simple and has an easy-to-use interface, payroll should just work.”8. Will my employees and contractors be able to access their payroll information? They absolutely should be able to, without exception. Online payroll providers usually give employees and contractors personal portals where they can access their pay stubs, Reeves says.ZenPayroll, for example, offers employees self-onboarding, lifetime employee accounts so they can access their pay details forever, and the ability to edit their own employee details.9. Will I be able to integrate my existing accounting systems with yours? Most online payroll solutions should quickly, seamlessly integrate with today’s most widely used small-business accounting software systems, such as Sage 50, Xero  and Quicken.You should be able to connect your existing accounting software directly from your online payroll provider’s user dashboard. Once it’s integrated, you won’t have to manually enter or reconcile payroll again.10. Can your service scale up to meet my business needs? Your payroll needs will grow proportionate to your business and staff growth, so you’ll want to make sure that your online payroll vendor offers the ability to add additional users and employees to your account.To ensure that the vendor can handle your needs over the long haul, ask which added services can be offered over time and for how much. Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. The use of traditional, painstakingly manual payroll systems are on the decline, and for good reason — they’re repetitive, complicated and prone to human error.If you’re tired of slogging your way through payroll by hand, it might be time pass the tedious task off to an automated online service. Switching to a cloud-based payroll solution can reduce costs, minimize mistakes and free you up to focus on growing your business, says Joshua Reeves, co-founder and chief executive of ZenPayroll, a cloud-based payroll solution provider headquartered out of San Francisco.Here are 10 essential questions to ask when shopping for the right online payroll provider for your company’s needs:1. What specific payroll services do you provide? There are more than a dozen cloud-based payroll services to choose from, with additional providers arriving on the market relatively often. To choose a service that’s a strong fit for your company, identify your specific payroll requirements and search for a vendor that delivers everything you need.Most of the leading cloud-based payroll providers, including Intuit QuickBooks, ADP, PAYCHEX and ZenPayroll, for example, provide an array of automated online payroll services, complete with access to a range of customized, one-click accounting reports.A reputable, full-service vendor should provide the following: Pay hourly, salary and contract employees via direct deposit. Some vendors enable you to print paychecks on site as well. Others, including PAYCHEX and ProPayroll, can also mail printed checks to you. Handle new employee reporting. Track paid time off (PTO) accrual and use, including vacation and sick days. File accuracy-guaranteed payroll taxes. Deduct benefits, including health and insurance benefits. Deduct 401(k), Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions. Handle various earnings and deductions, like bonuses, reimbursements, commission, tips and garnishments. 6 min readlast_img read more