After questionable NFL Combine interview questions about sexual preference and the first woman attempting to make an NFL roster, it seems as if the NFL might be more than ready to take on a major headline of having an openly gay player in the NFL. Well, the league might just make another major headline on what has been an action-packed off-season thus far.
Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com wrote Monday that he was told a current gay NFL player is considering publicly coming out. The ideal plan of action would be for him to make the announcement in the coming months, and then “go on about business as usual as far as his NFL career was concerned,” suggesting that there may not be a spot available on a 53-man roster for a player who makes such a monumental announcement.
Freeman information comes on the basis of several interviews with current and former NFL players, but the reporter doesn’t know the player in question. If this player were to come out, it would be a landmark moment in U.S. professional team sports.
Until last season, the topic of homosexuality, in sport or the NFL, had never been so prevalent. While players like Baltimore’s Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Culliver of the 49er’s made headlines for their comments about their feelings about gay players. Over the years many players have been vocal about the homosexual community, positive and negative.
Players like Ayanbadejo and Viking’s Punter Chris Kluwe have spoken out about their support for gay marriage. Additionally, New York Giants owner Steve Tisch, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and players like Scott Fujita, Scott Shanle, D’Qwell Jackson and Eric Winston are among those who supported a brief filed to the U.S. Supreme Court related to Proposition 8 in California.
Scott Fujita, formerly of the Cleveland Browns, says that he thinks the NFL is ready for an openly gay player in the league. In fact, Fujita told Freeman that, “The coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside.”
The NFL is becoming more and more progressive in nature, but still seems to be stuck in the past regarding having openly gay players in the NFL. In a sport that is predicated on an extreme amount of testosterone and masculinity, it would take a massive amount of guts for a player to be the first to make waves and make such a bold announcement. A number of players have made the announcement after their playing careers, but none while still actively playing.
In an off-season that has been full of historic storylines, none could eclipse the story of the man who would risk everything to make progress in the biggest sports franchise in the world. The question is: would the NFL fans embrace this player, or chastise him? Only time will tell. For a player that might be borderline on making the roster, it could be a career-altering decision to make this announcement. Though for those teams that are built to accept diversity, it could be a second-chance of sorts. My hope is that the announcement, if made, will spur others to make similar announcements so as to avoid this brave individual from being singled-out by the media and fans alike.
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