LGBT allies in the sports world have come out in support of their teammates to combat homophobia. After openly gay athlete Jason Collins came out last month, Portland Timbers fans displayed a giant rainbow flag during the game, and free agent cornerback Charles Woodson spoke out in support of gay athletes.
The Portland Timbers fans unexpectedly lit the rainbow colors at the home stadium with a banner that read “Pride not Prejudice.” On the other side of things, last month Timbers player Will Johnson spewed a gay slur to an opponent during a game. He was later suspended.
“With Jason Collins coming out and letting everybody know he was gay, it forces you to deal with it,” Woodson, who played with the Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders for 15 seasons, told OutSports. “If you’re someone who is against gay people, then my question is what you’re going to do once a player comes out in your locker room? Are you going to quit football?
“If you’re a coach and you don’t like the fact that a player is gay, are you going to stop coaching? I don’t think so. It would force guys to deal with it and you’d get over it. I’m sure there are probably players in the locker room who have thought another player was gay in the past. It’s not going to stop you from playing football. Life will go on and everybody will keep going out there doing their job,” Woodson concluded.
Commissioner Roger Goodwell also commented on the topic when NFL Network Spokesperson Steve Wyche interviewed him.
“I have such great respect for our players. I don’t think it will just be tolerated, I think it will be accepted,” said Goodwell. “These are individuals who play in our league. We’re all different in some fashion, and we’re accepting of our differences.”
Goodwell had been silent on the topic of openly gay athletes for a while. Even with 49ers Player Chris Culliver spouting homophobic remarks at this year’s Super Bowl, Goodwell did not provide commentary.
“That’s what this is all about. To me, if it happens in the league, that’s a personal choice, that someone would decide to do. But I know their teammates and teams, and I think the fans will all respond the right way,” Goodwell concluded.