Really? Still? Yes, my friends. Bigotry is alive and well in National Football League locker rooms, period. General Managers and NFL team owners are currently violating the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, various state hiring mandates, and hopefully future federal laws, in asking questions of our rookie class, of their sexual orientation.
This line of questioning began with Katie Couric asking Manti Te’o on January 25, if he were gay, in their TV interview. Mike Florio, on the Dan Patrick radio program, said that the Manti Te’o situation is “the elephant in the room”, and informs us that “in an NFL locker room it’s a different world.”
Does this doubt an NFL player’s trust of a teammate, his ability on the field, his capacity to tackle, or how high he can leap to catch a pass? Or the fear that he’ll “make a pass” at you in the shower stall?
At the NFL Combine, where rookie prospects are put through a variety of football drills and interviews, University of Colorado linebacker Nick Kasa was asked, “do you like girls, are you married, do you have girlfriends?” Also, Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell replied to a sports reporter, “yeah, there were questions like that….there were definitely questions like that.”
So in 2013, male athletes cannot “come out” when being recruited, nor with ones’ teammates once on the team, regardless of how well he plays. As I’ve written previously (9/25/12 Blog http://tinyurl.com/9uukgaz and 2/2/2013 Blog http://tinyurl.com/as696gx), homophobia is alive and well in sports. Chris Culliver of the SF 49ers said, that gay people have to get out of his locker room, before his Super Bowl appearance. He then apologized the next day. Right. He saw the light, as in “lights out,” after Culliver’s 49ers lost to the Ravens, who raised their Super Bowl trophy after the game.
Yet right now, we have a multitude of prominent Republicans, including former President George W, four former governors and two current members of Congress signing on with a legal brief, being submitted to the Supreme Court this week, seeking support for gay marriage.
And as the New York Times (2/26/13) writes, “The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers – 75 of Monday evening – who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy.”
Our U.S. military has repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the previous discriminatory GLBT policy towards our service men and women. However, as L.Z. Granderson so poignantly said on Outside the Lines, 2/28/13, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” continues to exist in the NFL locker room. Just don’t ask, and just don’t talk about your sexuality. Talk about your manhood, period.
We need more people like Brendon Ayanbadejo, from the Super Bowl Champions Baltimore Ravens, who himself is heterosexual, and has championed GLBT rights. On MSNBC Wednesday 2/27/13 Brendon stated, “you need to get drafted as high as you can..,” since one’s career only lasts between 3 – 5 years. He tells us that a player needs to say he is straight, and he loves women, in order to be drafted, and accepted by his teammates, because bigotry still exists in the locker room.
Finally, Granderson, states, “I don’t buy that there is ever the right time for a movement to occur. When was 'never' the right time, for Rosa Parks to say ‘no’ on the bus,” or when the women’s movement came out for the right to vote, or when the President came out to support marriage equality, or when the #1 talk show host is lesbian, or when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed ?
So all I want our Chicago Bears’ General Manager Phil Emery, and our new Coach, Marc Trestman to do, is draft the best possible players and evaluate these rookies according to their talent on the field and how they would fit in their system.
I just want them to bring us a winning team, so we can play in the 2014 Super Bowl in New York City, outside, in perfect “Bear weather.” As for their winning playbook? I won’t ask, and really, I don’t care.