The head of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) said that the league’s union has been working hard to prepare players for the “unavoidable announcement” that an NFL player will soon come out as gay.
Domonique Foxworth, President of the NFLPA, told a Baltimore radio station this week that his organization has had “quite a few meetings with a number of organizations” to help educate and prepare players.
“It’s important that we educate our guys and be ready for this inevitability,” he told WNST Radio.
Foxworth’s revelation coincides with a report by CBS Sports columnist Mike Freeman on Tuesday who wrote that, according to sources, a current NFL player is close to publicly revealing that he is gay.
Based on interviews over the past several weeks with current and former players, I’m told that a current gay NFL player is strongly considering coming out publicly within the next few months — and after doing so, the player would attempt to continue his career.
I’m told this player feels the time is now for someone to take this step — despite homophobic remarks from San Francisco 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver and the controversy arising recently at the Indianapolis Scouting combine, when prospects were asked questions about their sexuality.
Freeman wrote that, according to sources, the player’s true concern is not the reaction inside an NFL locker room, but outside of it.
“The player fears he will suffer serious harm from homophobic fans, and that is the only thing preventing him from coming out,” according to Freeman, who notes that he does not yet know who the player is.
“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. “But the NFLPA, as long as I’m president of it, is going to be behind that player and providing support.”
There has never been an active openly gay player in a major American team sport, but Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita said he thinks “the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now.”
Fujita, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, are among a growing coalition of straight allies in the professional sports arena who have taken a public stand in supporting LGBT rights and marriage equality, and who have said the time is right for openly gay professional athlete.
But Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons had a different take, and questions whether the motive is to end the secrecy, or perhaps a publicity stunt.
“I’m not against anyone but I think it’s a selfish act. They just trying to make themselves bigger than the team,” Clemons said.
Former San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Kwame Harris, who was publicly outed days before the Super Bowl in January following an altercation with a former boyfriend, said in an interview with CNN on Friday that he wished he would have come out while he was still playing.
“The cost was great (to) not speak candidly (and be) open about myself in complete manner,” said Harris. “If I could have done it differently, I would have hoped I found the strength (to come out).”
“I want people, whether gay athletes, athletes still in the closet, or youths who are not sure what their sexuality is to know those are common feelings,” he said. “Don’t feel alone in having them.”