Reports have suggested that, for several years, a currently active NFL player has been openly gay to many teammates, and coaches.
According to CBS Sports, the player was openly gay, and several of the player’s teammates knew. Around twelve players were said to have known that the, currently unnamed player, is gay.
“It was the worst kept secret on the team,” said one teammate. “Many of us knew and we didn’t care at all.”
The issue of gay players coming out has become particularly topical in the US, and many have anticipated that there will soon be an openly gay payer in the NFL.
There is a fear that there will be repercussions for a gay player coming out, from teammates, coaches and fans. There have been mixed messages from within the NFL, with some players voicing support, and some saying gay players would not be welcome.
“We saw him as a player,” said the teammate, “not as a gay player.”
CBS declined to name the player or team, since he had not publicly come out.
Members of the team, coaching staff, and the wives of some players were reportedly all aware that the player was gay, and accepting of that fact.
The report also went on to suggest that members of the player’s previous team also knew, and did not care either.
Some have speculated that this is a sign that the sporting industry will soon be at a point where gay players can come out, and continue playing.
In the US there is currently no openly gay player in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association or National Hockey League.
At the beginning of March, NFL player Scott Fujita spoke out about the issue of a lack of gay players in professional sport, and said that he thinks it would “not be an issue at all” to have a gay player in the locker room.
Brendon Ayanbadejo, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, the team which won this year’s Super Bowl, and Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings, also wrote an amicus brief, and filed it, urging the Supreme Court to act against legislation preventing equal marriage.
He told an interviewer: “I don’t do the gay guys man… I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff.”
Culliver since apologised, and said his comments were “hurtful and ugly”, and said they didn’t reflect his true feelings on the issue. He said: “I pledge to learn and grow from this experience.”