Sources say at least one gay NFL player may be ready to make his sexual orientation public.
In a recent post by National NFL Insider Mike Freeman on CBSSports.com, he explores the question of whether or not the NFL is ready for a player, or players, to “come out” and declare their homosexuality. Freeman points out that former player Scott Fujita, along with a “coalition of current and former NFL players, and NFL team owners, a music mogul and others, are working diligently to create a safe atmosphere,” for just that historic day.
What Freeman also points out is there are “serious indications” that an NFL player coming out publicly may be much closer than people realize. He said,
Based on interviews over the past several weeks with current and former players, I’m told that a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly within the next few months—and after doing so, the player would attempt to continue his career.
I’m told this player feels the time is now for someone to take this step—despite homophobic remarks from San Francisco 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver and the controversy arising recently at the Indianapolis Scouting combine, when prospects were asked questions about their sexuality.
This player’s true concern, I’m told, is not the reaction inside an NFL locker room but outside of it. The player fears he will suffer serious harm from homophobic fans, and that is the only thing preventing him from coming out.
What Freeman says may be true. There may actually be less risk from inside the NFL than people would assume, and the truth of this is becoming more evident every day. Fujita has said,
I honestly think the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now. Trust me, the coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside. The way I’ve seen the conversation around LGBT issues evolve, especially in the past few years, has been encouraging. Guys are more accepting than they used to be. Even those who raise personal objections to homosexuality, some of whom are good friends of mine, would still be able to coexist and accept a gay teammate.
Last week a brief was filed by Fujita and other supporters of gay rights with the Supreme Court in support of one of the two marriage equality cases currently before the justices. And as Freeman points out, the supporters of the brief are quite impressive. They include,
Giants co-owner Steve Tisch; Demaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA; Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo; Marie Tillman, co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation; Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records; former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans; Browns center Alex Mack; and NFL players Connor Barwin, D’Qwell Jackson, Tom Crabtree, Eric Winston and Scott Shanle, among others.
What do you think?
Is the NFL ready for openly gay players?
Do you think an openly gay NFL player has more to fear from the fans than his teammates?
Photo: Anderson Mancini/Flickr