A commentator covering the National Football League (NFL) has said that a player currently active in the league is readying himself to come out and reveal he is gay. It comes as the league has faced massive controversy over its stance on LGBT issues and discrimination in recent months.
CBS Sports Mike Freeman said that “Im 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. My sources will not say who this alleged player is,” he added, but did not reveal any personal details or hint at which player would be making the announcement.
Last month, the NFL was hit by more LGBT scandal after a prospective draft pick revealed on ESPN Radio Denver that he had been questioned over his sexual orientation during the now finished combine in Indianapolis.
Nick Kasa, a Colorado University tight end, said that “[Teams] ask you like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ ‘Are you married?’ ‘Do you like girls?’ ” Kasa said in the radio interview. “Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether.”
The NFL, already battling against apparent homophobia in the league, were quick to respond, saying that “teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws.
“It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation,” the league said.
“We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the scouting combine. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.”
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said that the league promised an investigation, in a statement to USA Today Sports.
“I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our CBA and player rights,” Smith said.
“I hope that they will seek out information as to what teams have engaged in this type of discrimination and we should then discuss appropriate discipline.”
San Francisco 49ers’ cornerback Chris Culliver sparked controversy earlier this year ahead of the Super Bowl when he voiced his opinion of gay football players.
He said, “No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah … can’t be … in the locker room man. Nah.”
Culliver has since sent out a public apology retracting his statement, but it’s such antigay remarks that create an unstable atmosphere for athletes thinking of coming out. The research supports this idea.
A number of players, including Baltimore Ravens Terrell Suggs has said that his team is ready for an openly gay player, adding that inside their locker room, there would be no issues.