An NFL player has spoken out to congratulate NBA star Jason Collins for coming out as gay, but has questioned why gay athletes felt the need to “flaunt” their sexuality.

Jason Collins on Monday spoke about his sexuality, confirming he is gay in an article in Sports Illustrated magazine. He said: “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel, said he had “nothing but respect” for people such as Jason Collins, and the discussion stemming from his coming out, but asked why people felt they had to “flaunt it” like that.

In an interview with Fox Sports Radio, Samuel said: ”Straight people are not announcing they’re straight, so why does everybody have to announce their sexuality or whatever? You know, what they prefer.”

“So that’s just how I see it,” he said. “That’s my opinion on things. All respect you know, I have nothing but respect for the people whoever decisions they make and whatever, but you know, you don’t have to show it and flaunt it like that. You know what I’m saying, we have kids out here, too.”

He went on to say: ”Who says you had to announce what you are and that has to be talked about because you’re playing a sport? Talk about the sport, how good you do in the sport.”

A former NFL player and Super Bowl Champion, this week had a speaking appearance cancelled by a church over a congratulatory tweet he sent to Collins.

Former NFL player and Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward, also spoke out on the news that Collins had come out as gay, and said that “football isn’t ready”, for openly gay players. 

Mike Wallace, an NFL player for the Miami Dolphins, took to Twitter to respond to Collins’ revelation, noting that he personally found women attractive, and suggesting that being gay is a choice. He later apologised for the tweet.

Last week, the NFL agreed, in an unprecedented move, to better protect gay players against discrimination and harassment.

Alan Gendreau, a gay American footballer has expressed hopes of being drafted by an NFL team, and could be the first openly-gay player the industry has anticipated for some time.