When former Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple went to the NFL combine, he was surprised when an Atlanta Falcons coached asked him if he is gay. During an interview with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, the player talked about the incident but refused to name the coach.
“The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, ‘So do you like men?'” Apple said. “It was like the first thing he asked me. It was weird. I was just like, ‘No’.”
“He was like, ‘If you’re going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that’s how it is around here. You’re going to have to get used to it.’ I guess he was joking, but they just ask most of these questions to see how you’re going to react.”
“I am really disappointed in the question that was asked by one of our coaches,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn told ESPN. “I have spoken to the coach that interviewed Eli Apple and explained to him how inappropriate and unprofessional this was. I have reiterated this to the entire coaching staff and I want to apologize to Eli for this even coming up. This is not what the Atlanta Falcons are about and it is not how we are going to conduct ourselves.”
The NFL has said it will investigate the incident. A similar investigation happened in 2013 after three draft picks said they were asked questions about their sexual orientation.
“It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation,” the league said in a statement at the time. “Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.”