New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski appeared on ESPN Radio New York recently saying that he’s fine with a gay player on the team:
“I got this question before, about a year ago, and I basically will say the same answer that I did a year ago. 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.”
“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.”
No active NFL player has publicly come out as gay, although a report from CBSSports.com this week states that a current NFL player is “strongly considering” doing so.
Scott Fujita, an 11-year N.F.L. veteran and an ambassador for Athlete Ally, which fights homophobia in sports, has written a powerful op-ed for the New York Times on the subject of marriage equality and the many examples he plans to use to explain to his young daughters how and why discrimination against gay marriage existed and the progress that has been made.
I support marriage equality for so many reasons: my father’s experience in an internment camp and the racial intolerance his family experienced during and after the war, the gay friends I have who are really not all that different from me, and also because of a story I read a few years back about a woman who was denied the right to visit her partner of 15 years when she was stuck in a hospital bed.
My belief is rooted in a childhood nurtured by a Christian message of love, compassion and acceptance. It’s grounded in the fact that I was adopted and know there are thousands of children institutionalized in various foster programs, in desperate need of permanent, safe and loving homes, but living in states that refuse to allow unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians, to adopt because they consider them not fit to be parents.
In articulating all my feelings about marriage equality, I almost don’t know where to begin. And perhaps that’s part of the problem. Why do we have to explain ourselves when it comes to issues of fairness and equality? Why is common sense not enough?
LGBT allys and NFL football players Chris Kluwe (Minnesota Vikings) and Brendon Ayanbedejo (Baltimore Ravens) have filed their own amicus brief in support of repealing Prop 8 in California. The brief was filed on the last day “friend of the court” briefs could be filed.
In the brief, Kluwe and Ayanbadejo argue that athletes have a good
deal of influence — for better or worse — and they wanted to express
their support for the right of gays to marry legally.
“When we advance the idea that some people should be treated
differently because of who they are,” they wrote, “demeaned in public as
lesser beings, not worthy of the same rights and benefits as others
despite their actions as good citizens and neighbors, then we deny them
equal protection under the laws. America has walked this path before,
and courageous people and the Court brought us to the right result. We
urge the Court to repeat those actions here.”
National Football League teams want to know the same thing of the projected first-round draft pick at the league’s annual scouting combine, according to NBC and Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who told radio host Dan Patrick that the issue of Te’o’s sexuality has become “the elephant in the room” for NFL teams interested in drafting him. CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman has the transcript, part of which is here:
“On the field, you still have to account for what happened in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama,” Florio told the Dan Patrick Show. “Here’s the elephant in the room for the teams and it shouldn’t matter, but we have to step aside from the rest of reality and walk into the unique industry that is the NFL. Teams want to know whether Manti Te’o is gay. They just want to know. They want to know because in an NFL locker room, it’s a different world. It shouldn’t be that way.” […]
Patrick interrupted Florio to ask: “You’re telling me that you’re hearing from teams who want to know this, but how do you ask it? Are they trying to find a finesse way to ask that question, or are they going to do investigative work on finding out if Manti Te’o is gay?”
Florio said: “It’s been described to me as the proverbial elephant in the room and I don’t think anyone knows how to solve this dilemma yet. It’s just that they want to know what they’re getting. They want to know what issues they may be dealing with down the road. We just assumed that at some point there would be an openly gay player in an NFL locker room and the team would have to work with the realities and make sure that everything’s fine.”
Manti, apparently, is not the only player to be asked about his sexuality, the HuffPost reports:
NFL prospect Nick Kasa was asked by scouts about his sexual orientation at the NFL Combine, the tight end said in a radio interview on Tuesday.
Kasa, a senior at the University of Colorado, is one of a few hundred players who participated this week in the NFL Scouting Combine, an annual showcase for NFL prospects in advance of April’s draft. Over the course of the Combine, participants submit themselves for a variety of physical and mental tests, as well as interviews with NFL teams. According to Kasa, it was during these interviews that the topic of his sexual preferences came up.
“[Teams] ask you like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ Are you married?’ Do you like girls?’” Kasa told CJ and Kreckman of ESPN Radio Denver on Tuesday. “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.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Outsports the league is investigating:
“Like all employers, our 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. 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.”
Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo’s reaction to Chris Culliver’s anti-gay remarks:
“You know, I think that in San Francisco, and being from the Bay Area myself, that’s something that we really try to preach — love and acceptance of everybody. And so I couldn’t really even say anything negative to the young man. It’s just one of those things where you have to live and you have to learn. And I said earlier on (a TV broadcast) — in the words of Martin Luther King, you can’t fight hate with hate. You have to fight hate with love. We’ve all made our mistakes, we’ve all been there and done certain things, and we’ve hurt people regardless if we meant to do it or not. But more than anything it’s an opportunity to have a learning experience.”
And the Minnesota Vikings Chris Kluwe had this to say:
“While he’s certainly entitled to speak his mind, Culliver is a role model whether he likes it or not. There are kids all over the United States who aspire to be right where he is and he has an obligation to consider the effect of his words. Kids are listening.”
From NPR: NFL players voted to OK a final deal Monday, days after the owners approved a tentative agreement, and the sides finally managed to put an end to the 4 1/2-month lockout, the longest work stoppage in league history.
“This is a long time coming, and football’s back,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “and that’s the great news for everybody.”
At a joint appearance outside the NFL Players Association headquarters, Goodell and NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith were flanked by some of the owners and players who were involved in the talks. They spoke shortly after the NFLPA executive board and 32 team reps voted unanimously to approve the terms of a deal.
“We didn’t get everything that either side wanted … but we did arrive at a deal that we think is fair and balanced,” Smith said.
The sides worked through the weekend and wrapped up the details Monday morning on a final pact that runs for 10 years, without an opt-out clause, a person familiar with the deal told the AP on condition of anonymity.
Owners decided in 2008 to opt out of the league’s old labor contract, which expired March 11. That’s when the owners locked out the players, creating the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987.
Btw – please notice that there IS a football in the photos. AND they are pictures of NFL quarterbacks. AND I knew all that.