There have been articles defending Comcast SportsNet Chicago analyst and former Bears QB Jim Miller against Deadspin. And of course there’s the original Deadspin article attacking Miller, from which the author softened his stance a little. However, has anyone considered that both positions here are wrong? That no one is correct in this situation?
Miller doesn’t like gays; but he’s at least smart enough not to couch it that way.
“There are some religions that are just not going to accept a gay individual in the locker room,” Miller told “The McNeil and Spiegel Show” on WSCR-AM 670. “So now, are you as an organization going to bring that element into your locker room and think everything is going to be OK?
“Last time I checked, whether it’s Christianity or Muslims or other religions that are out there, they’re just not going to accept it. They’re just not. It’s just not realistic for Mike Florio or any progressive or liberal to think that everything is going to be OK in the locker room, and we should all just wise up and accept it.”
Asked his stance on whether gays should be accepted, Miller said, “I could care less. You can play football or you can’t. I’m just giving you my point of view that certain factions of a locker room will not accept it. … That’s the reality of the situation.”
This is third-hand dogmatism. Miller won’t say he wouldn’t accept a gay teammate. He won’t even say other guys won’t accept a gay teammate. But instead it’s those other guys’ religions (be it “Christianity or Muslims”) that’s the only thing standing in the way of an openly gay NFL player being feted—as if this isn’t a discrimination gay non-athletes face every day.
After deservedly receiving some flak for his article,
in an open Q&A, Petchesky was asked if he would apologize to Miller.
Here’s his response:
I feel terrible that the takeaway seems to be “Jim Miller’s a bigot,” even though I included his full remarks in there. Given the chance, I’d write it differently. Regarding Miller, I took a leap as to his personal beliefs that I shouldn’t have, even though I still think it’s a safe bet (When asked if gays should be accepted, Miller said “I could care less,” which is pointedly not a yes.) The emails calling me “faggot” and “homo-loving liberal” lead me to believe that there’s a homophobic contingent that identifies with Miller’s argument, and he’s speaking for them even if he himself doesn’t subscribe.
But I’ll stand behind my points, which are that it’s asinine to A) Set up the strawman that anyone was claiming it wouldn’t be hard for a gay player; B) Take the blame from homophobic players and put it on their religious doctrines; C) Pretend there aren’t already players hated by the rest of their locker rooms; D) Claim that sexual integration in sports is a project by “progressives or liberals.” Imagine those comments being said about Jackie Robinson–”You can’t just expect to integrate baseball because there are players who won’t accept black teammates.”
Yes, Deadspin is wrong for conveying Miller as a Tim Tebow type bible-thumper. And Tim Tebow isn’t even the most religious player in the NFL by the way, the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Troy Polamalu prays before EVERY play out on the field. On the same radio station that Miller made the comments, talk show hosts of another show articulated that Miller claims to have been to church four whole times in his life; all for weddings. He’s not Ned Flanders.
Lots of NFL players come from poor rural communities where the church is by far the biggest building around for miles, or they come from poor urban communities where the church is one of the safest places around. So you can understand why they might be drawn to some religions, even those that bash gays. Miller is not saying the NFL is filled with Westboro Baptist Church “God hates Fags” idiots/scumbags (or more likely a lighter version of those morons). He’s saying that the position is out there, and could be an obstacle. He’s also not endorsing that position.
All this comes in the wake of speculation over the sexuality of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. And his answer, “far from it, farrrrrrrrr from it” on Katie Couric actually didn’t help things. It just reeks of over-compensation. And Te’o is Mormon, which is so strict it’s like…if Christianity is cocaine, then Mormonism is crack.
But this isn’t about just Te’o. Earlier this week Colorado tight end Nick Kasa admitted that during the NFL combine a team asked him if he “liked girls”. Because of Kasa’s comments, the NFL is looking to investigate whether or not there is any truth to Kasa’s claims about questions he was asked during the combine. And now, Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell is reporting that he was also indirectly asked about his sexuality. h/t Down and Distance
This comes off the heels of a recently retired NFL veteran being out after a fight with his boyfriend over soy sauce led to legal charges.
So when will we see an openly gay athlete active in the four major team sports?
Miller is not doing anything at all to help progress.
Miller doesn’t endorse the anti-gay position, but he doesn’t condemn it either. His comments state that he’s leaving that fight for “liberals and progressives” to figure out. Well, then I guess progress will be made only at a snail’s pace. And Miller will have no part in helping that progress occur, even though he is in a position (as both a former NFL player and NFL analyst) to help the cause.
And although he’s not in favor of segregation, bigotry and homophobia, his comments show apathy towards it- not an ideal position to have. Because we continue failing to remember this lesson from history. The famous “First they came…” statement attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller. Read the whole piece here
A Fulbright scholar, author and MBA, Banks has appeared on the History Channel, as well as Clear Channel, ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB)