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Thursday, December 18, 2014

NFL player reportedly ‘strongly considering’ coming out as gay, fears reaction from fans

Scott-FujitaThe topic of gay athletes in professional sports has been of growing interest over the past few years. In particular, many wonder how the stereotypes of gay men would mesh with the stereotypes associated with a sport like football. Football players are largely assumed to be rugged, heterosexual men who date the captain of the cheerleading squad, but that is hardly always the case.

According to CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman, one current NFL player is “strongly considering” coming out as gay. While many feel that we are years away from having an openly gay player inside an NFL locker room, Freeman said there is reason to believe that day will come sooner rather than later.

Based on interviews over the past several weeks with current and former players, I’m told that a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly within the next few months — and after doing so, the player would attempt to continue his career.

I’m 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.

Since Super Bowl week, a couple of major stories pertaining to gay athletes in the NFL have come to light. First, we had Chris Culliver’s incredibly insensitive remarks about whether or not he would be comfortable with a gay teammate. Then, there was the Colorado tight end who said an NFL team asked him if he likes girls as part of its interview process. Toss in former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim Miller’s comments about religion preventing gay players from being accepted and one would think now is as difficult a time as ever to come out.

However, Freeman’s source said the player who is considering coming is fearful of the reaction of homophobic fans more than he is concerned about the reaction from players and teammates. It should be noted that it seems like for every player like Culliver there are several more like Chris Kluwe and Jon Ryan who are willing to fight for equality. Scott Fujita and several other NFL players recently filed a brief in support of a marriage equality case in front of the Supreme Court.

The harsh reality is that when a player does come out as openly gay, there is going to be backlash and discrimination — both from the fans and other athletes. The hope is that in doing so, the player will provide us with another major stepping stone toward accepting reality.



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