The headline says “A Dozen NFL Players Tell Outsports They Would Support a Gay Teammate.”
It is really a great story idea from SportsNation’s Outsports blog.
Some highlights from the Outsports story:
Jevon Kearse was a three-time Pro Bowl defensive end with the Tennessee Titans. At 6-foot-4, 265 lbs., “The Freak” is an imposing physical specimen with a deep voice. He is the epitome of masculinity.
He also told us he would warmly welcome a gay player on his team.
“In the game of football, it’s like a war out there,” Kearse said. “Once you get out on the field, all that stuff is to the side. You’re on my side. I played in the NFL for 11 years, I’m sure there were at least one or two guys along the line that were gay.”
His former Titans teammate Eddie George, who averaged over 1,100 rushing yards a season for his career, agreed.
“I just don’t care about that,” George said. “If that’s what you do, that’s what you do. I don’t hate you because of it or dislike you because of it. That’s not my personal preference, but I respect your decision. I’m not going to like you less or not be your friend because of that.”
George, who DJ’d a party for the NFL rookies last Saturday in Hollywood, said he thought a gay teammate would have been accepted on the Titans team that featured him and Kearse in Super Bowl XXXIV.
“I don’t see it as a problem,” he said. “I don’t think it would have been a problem at all.”
I don’t agree with his assessment that being gay is a decision. You don’t just decide to be gay or straight. When did you decide?
In 2011, former player Michael Strahan and team owner Steve Tisch publicly supported New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage. That hasn’t been lost on former Giant linebacker Antonio Pierce.
“Some guys have come out publicly and stated how they feel about that,” Pierce said. “You’ve got to give them credit, because that’s a tough situation. Just look at what Obama did recently.”
Pierce said any man who survives the gauntlet of the NFL deserves respect and a spot on a team, no matter how he lives his personal life.
“You have to accept it because he is a part of your team,” Pierce said. “He’s one of the 53 guys. Obviously he’s put in the sweat and the blood and the pain to get there. I’ll never knock him. As long as we can win a football game, I don’t care. As long as we’re winning football games and winning championships, that’s all that matters.”
Pierce’s former teammate Jesse Palmer played out his NFL career in two relatively gay-friendly cities. He said neither the Giants nor the 49ers would have marginalized a gay player.
“We always had really good guys in the locker room in New York and San Francisco,” Palmer said. “Both of those situations, it was a very close-knight group. I don’t think it would have been an issue. If it’s a teammate, that’s a real bond you have in the locker room, especially with football. It’s a special bond. Regardless of someone’s sexuality, that really should have no bearing or effect. At the end of the day you’re a team. That’s the important thing.”
Jesse Palmer. You are so correct. SO correct.
It should be no surprise that the most accepting statements regarding the possibility of having a gay teammate comes from rookies. Check this out:
Indianapolis Colts tight end Coby Fleener hasn’t thought much about gay issues. Though having attended Stanford, a short drive down the 101 freeway from San Francisco, he has no issue with the idea of a gay man on his team.
“As long as they competed on the field and gave it their all in practice, that’s all I care about,” Fleener said. “It’s not something that’s at the forefront of football. But especially at Stanford and in the Bay Area, it’s something you deal with on a regular basis, more so than anywhere else in the United States. So I’m very comfortable with it, whereas in other areas it might not be the norm.”
Trent Richardson, one of the biggest stars in the 2012 NFL rookie class, didn’t play college football in a particularly gay-friendly corner of America. The running back won two national championships with Alabama and was the third pick in this year’s NFL draft, selected by the Cleveland Browns. His fellow Alabamans passed an anti-gay-marriage law in 2006 with 81% of the vote; Homosexual sex only became legal in the state when the United States Supreme Court struck down all anti-sodomy laws in the nation.
Despite that, Richardson doesn’t care if a teammate is gay.
“I never pay attention to it,” Richardson said while revealing he has gay friends. “They do what they do. I don’t have a problem with them. As long as they’re playing good football and contributing to the team, I don’t have nothing to do with that. It is what it is. I don’t have any problem with any sexuality or whatever they’ve got going on. That’s them. That’s what they want to do. That’s their life.”
All of this said, why does it even matter what a person’s sexuality is as long as they can play the game. Seriously?
The main thing I find myself wondering about this story: Why is this a story? Why does it even matter?
Football is a violent sport. Very macho, He-man. The main thing that matters … Are you talented enough to play the game? Can you throw? Can you catch? Can you kick? And, most importantly, can you hit?
No matter the sport, if you can play the game with all your heart, it doesn’t, and should not, matter who you love.
When you look back at the issue of race during the 1960s-70s when people seriously questioned the race of a teammate, I hope the issue of homosexuality become just as ridiculous a notion. I really look forward to the day when we look back at the issue of homosexuality and find it absolutely ridiculous that it was even as issue who one loves.
Let me know what you think about this issue! Comment below.
Miranda Remaklus is senior reporter for Aerys Offsides. She’s also a contributor to Aaron Miles’ Fastball in the MLB section. Follow her on Twitter, @missmiranda.