NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Late last month, Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reported that “a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly within the next few months.”
Freeman said he was told that the player “feels the time is now for someone to take this step.”
Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo addressed the matter on Friday and shed some firsthand light on the subject.
“I think it will happen sooner than you think,” Ayanbadejo said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “We’re in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they’re trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.”
Ayanbadejo has spoken out publicly and supported sexual equality. But he wants to take that a step further. He wants the NFL to be on board and wholly support the cause.
And he believes that a lot of progress is being made.
“I had a great talk with [NFL vice president of player engagement] Troy Vincent,” Ayanbadejo said. “The NFL wants to be proactive about what’s going on with players and some of the remarks and incidents that have been happening with the LGBT community. The NFL wants me to talk to the rookie class, and they are talking about potentially having talks with all the guys about LGBT sensitivity. I think all the major sports groups need to be productive and take a stance.”
Former Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins told WFAN’s Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton last October that it’s time for an NFL player to come out of the closet. Ayanbadejo’s teammate, Terrell Suggs, told Boomer & Carton in February that the Ravens’ “No. 1 goal is to come together and win some football games; not scrutinize a person on his personal beliefs or his sexual orientation.”
“I honestly think the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now,” free-agent linebacker Scott Fujita told Freeman. “Trust me, the coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside. The way I’ve seen the conversation around LGBT issues evolve, especially in the past few years, has been encouraging. Guys are more accepting than they used to be.
“Even those who raise personal objections to homosexuality, some of whom are good friends of mine, would still be able to coexist and accept a gay teammate.”
If and when these players do in fact come out, what will the public reaction be like?
NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth isn’t naive, and he knows that it will be a challenge that the league will have to overcome.
“When the public finds out about it, it’s going to be a media storm, and it’s going to be a lot of press and a lot of attention, and probably not all of it’s gonna be positive,” Foxworth said last week, according to CBSSports.com. “But the NFLPA, as long as I’m president of it, is going to be behind that player and providing support.”
What would the public reaction be to four players coming out on the same day? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…