Will an NFL Player Come Out This Year?
A number of media outlets are reporting that an active NFL player may soon come out of the closet. There’s yet to be an active openly gay athlete in men’s professional football, baseball, basketball or hockey, so the announcement would be astonishing.
According to a report by CBS Sports’ Mike Freeman, a gay active NFL player is debating whether or not he should come out in the next few months. There have been a number of athletes who have announced that they’re gay after they’ve retired but Freeman says this athlete will continue to play.
Freeman also writes that current and former players told him that the athlete is not worried about the reaction from his teammates, but is concerned about his fans.
"I honestly think the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now," Scott Fujita, a free-agent linebacker told Freeman. "Trust me, the coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside. "The way I’ve seen the conversation around LGBT issues evolve, especially in the past few years, has been encouraging."
He added that athletes are more accepting than they have been in the past and players who have issues with homosexuality would still be able to "coexist and accept a gay teammate."
LGBT rights supporters in the sports world have been working to help that the athlete in question. They want him to have a good support system if he does choose to come out.
"We want to let this NFL player -- or any closeted gay player -- know that you have backup. Your community, whether it is your teammates or your fan base is here to support you," Hudson Taylor, founder and executive director of Athlete Ally, a group working to end homophobia in sports, said in a statement. Fujita, an ambassador for the group, said he doesn’t want the athlete to feel pressured into coming out.
"Everyone is different and has his or her own way of living life. At the same time, encouraging fans to stand up for inclusion in sports is fundamental to Athlete Ally’s mission and inextricably bound to moments like this."