Earlier this week, CBSSports.com’s Michael Freeman reported that a gay NFL football player is “strongly considering” making his sexual orientation public in the near future. But only a couple months ago, a starter on a Super Bowl team said he wouldn’t accept an openly gay teammate.
NFLPA president Domonique Foxworth has been quite vocal in support of diversity in pro football, and he seems to believe we’re headed toward a watershed moment.
Dominique Foxworth joined Glenn Clark on WNST in Baltimore to discuss homosexuality in the NFL, the culture surrounding that, the possibility that someone comes out soon, and the reaction to what he feels is an inevitable development. He also chimed in on the union’s issue with the HGH testing program on the table.
On the possibility that a gay NFL player could come out soon:
“A lot of comparisons are made to first African-American to play baseball, and those sort of things — Jackie Robinson. I think there are a lot of similarities and a lot of lessons to be learned from there, but I think that times are different and this issue is different. There are gay players in the NFL today. It’s a strong possibility that there already are some and it’s a strong possibility that there have been gay players in the league throughout its entire history. There are probably gay players in the Hall of Fame. So the idea that there’s never been a gay player … it’s kind of absurd. So I think it might move more quickly once people get accustomed to people being open about it. It’s not gonna be easy for that person, which is why we’re doing everything we can. And we’ve had quite a few meetings with a number of organizations to help educate our players. … It’s important that we educate our guys and be ready for this inevitability.”
On players being asked how they’d feel about having gay teammates:
“Having people question players about it is part of the process. You need to be aware of it so it’s not out of the blue. When someone does come out, no one’s shocked. I think everyone in the NFL knows that they’ve played with a gay player and they probably think that there might be someone on their team now. They just don’t know who that person is.”
On homosexual former player Wade Davis describing his experience in somewhat of an informal “Don’t ask, don’t tell” culture:
“He talked about being semi-out and that, on a lot of teams there was an understanding that a guy might have been gay but he never really said, ‘Hey, I’m gay.’ And no one asked him, ‘Are you gay?’ But people kind of knew and they treated him with respect and it was fine and it was comfortable. I’m sure that’s probably taking place in a lot of locker rooms right now.”
On the anticipated reaction to such a development:
“When the public finds out about it, it’s going to be a media storm and it’s gonna be a lot of press and a lot of attention. And probably not all of it’s gonna be positive. … Someone on Twitter brought this up to me … it doesn’t have to be one player. When one player comes out [it's possible] multiple players will, because they are in our league right now.”
On the NFLPA questioning WADA’s blood testing method for human growth hormone:
“We’re not asking that there not be a test, but it stands to reason that we’d like to be able to challenge the science of the test. … We’re not interested in making our players available for a test that is not fool-proof. And if it is not fool-proof, then our players need appeal rights. … It’s not a thumbs up/thumbs down kind of right-or-wrong test. They’re testing players to see how much human growth hormone that they have in their system, which all people have a certain amount. So they are attempting to determine if a person has too much or too little, which is to some degree arbitrary. So we’d like to be able to challenge those rulings and be able to ensure that if a guy tests positive, it’s because he tested positive. I mean, there’s only one thing worse than having people getting away with cheating is having someone who didn’t cheat be penalized.”