New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, nicknamed “The Gronk,” joins the growing chorus of pro-LGBT athletes, while Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons keeps up with anti-LGBT rhetoric.
In an interview with ESPN Radio, Gronkowski said:
“You’ve got to accept the player. Everyone has their own ways to live their life and as long as he’s respecting me, keeping distance, respecting myself, I’ll respect him back. If he’s being a great teammate and he’s a guy on the field doing a great job, well then you’ve got nothing to complain about. He’s another teammate and another friend.”
“I never went around asking players on my team or in the NFL, ‘Hey, what would you think if someone on our team is gay? How would you take it?’ I never thought of that, and never asked anyone that and never tried to find out if there is [a gay player]on the team. If someone is on my team and they are a great teammate and a great player on the field, helping the team win — that’s all you’ve got to ask for.”
Earlier this week, Clemons began a dialogue on twitter, beginning with “Why on Gods earth is this person saying he’s coming out of the closet in the NFL?” in response to rumors that there will be a gay pro-player soon.
User @bill0004 responded with the question, “Who knows, but honestly is that a problem? It’s his/her choice isn’t it?”
To which Clemons replied, “@bill0004 If you didn’t do it when you were in high school or college then why wait till your in the NFL? Whoever he is he didn’t just start”
Then @Jack_Humphreys4 asked him “@chrisclemons91 so are you agains him coming out at all or because he waited to do it in the NFL”
Clemons replied “@Jack_Humphreys4 I’m not against anyone but I think it’s a selfish act. They just trying to make themselves bigger than the team.”
After backlash ensued on twitter, Clemons sent out a tweet saying, “No one said anything about be a homophobic. I just think something’s should be left at home.”
Despite comments like Clemons’, former Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita thinks the NFL is ready for an openly gay player, telling CBSSport.com’s Mike Freeman, “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.”