Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com believes that a gay NFL player could be coming out of the closet soon, and that the player will “attempt to continue his career.”
The player has not been named.
“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,” Freeman reported Monday. There has never been an active gay professional athlete in a major U.S. team sport, according to CBS Local.
Sexual orientation has been a hot topic in the NFL recently. Many were critical after it was reported that one or more teams allegedly inquired into prospects’ sexual preferences at the scouting combine. Prior to the Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver apologized after making “ugly” anti-gay comments regarding locker room culture. Freeman said he was told the player “feels the time is now for someone to take this step.”
“This player’s true concern, I’m told, is not the reaction inside an NFL locker room but outside of it. The player fears he will suffer serious harm from homophobic fans, and that is the only thing preventing him from coming out.”
Free-agent linebacker Scott Fujita had an op-ed published on Saturday in the New York Times.
“In many respects, the football locker room is a microcosm of society,” Fujita wrote. “While there is certainly an element of bravado in our sport, football players are not the meatheads many think we are. For some of my friends who raise personal objections to marriage equality, they still recognize the importance of being accepting. And many of them also recognize that regardless of what they choose to believe or practice at home or at their church, that doesn’t give them the right to discriminate. I am encouraged by how I’ve seen such conversations evolve.”
The following day, NFL Players Association president Domonique Foxworth had his own op-ed appear in USA Today titled, “Football supports gay marriage.”
“Athletes have long been among the most prominent agents for social change,” the former player wrote. “We are proud of our role on the front lines of civil rights. We have stood up for issues that are bigger than the game we play, and though the topics debated may change over the years, the principle is the same: We fundamentally believe that all people deserve equal rights.”