What comes to mind when you think of American pro football? Probably not “gay-friendly.” But the homophobic attitudes so prevalent in the NFL and its hyper-masculine fan culture might be evolving. At the NFLPA Rookie Premiere event in Los Angeles last week, several current and former NFL stars said they’d be happy to welcome a gay teammate.
“As long as they competed on the field and gave it their all in practice, thatís all I care about,” Indianapolis Colts rookie Coby Fleener told Outsports. “Iím very comfortable with it.”
Trent Richardson, who plays for the Cleveland Browns, echoed Fleener’s sentiment. “As long as theyíre playing good football and contributing to the team, I donít have nothing to do with that … It is what it is. I donít have any problem with any sexuality or whatever theyíve got going on.”
“You canít discriminate,” said Buffalo Bills wide receiver T.J. Graham. “Itís just like black, white, same thing. You wouldnít discriminate against my race, just like I wouldnít discriminate against your sexuality.”
A few retired players also weighed in on the subject and expressed their support for LGBT athletes.
“I played in the NFL for 11 years,” said Jevon Kearse. “Iím sure there were at least one or two guys along the line that were gay.Ē
Most LGBT players are afraid to come out because of the “the scrutiny he might face from the locker room,” said former Green Bay Packer Ahman Green, who has a gay brother and a lesbian sister. “In our sport, to be honest, I think it would be hard for any guy to come out while he’s playing. The gay community is just like everybody else, but they’re treated differently. It’s a double standard.”
Added Green, “People are born that way. You can’t control it … But a lot of people donít think my way. I wish they did, because then there wouldnít be guys who wanted to stay hidden.”
Photo credit: Ron Almog (Creative Commons)