The issue of gay players in the NFL has been somewhat of a hot topic recently, ranging from 49ers’ cornerback Chris Culliver’s homophobic remarks to the possibility that teams were asking if players “liked girls” during last month’s scouting combine.
In other words, the controversy is getting out of hand and Browns linebacker Scott Fujita is trying to take a step forward (though he is not the only one doing so) and save the game from looking entirely backwards on a major social issue.
In a recent interview on 92.3 The Fan, Fujita said he believes it’s a “misperception” that NFL locker rooms are homophobic.
"“The overwhelming majority would be completely fine with that [having a gay teammate]. It’s important for closet gay athletes everywhere, not just at the professional level, but more importantly athletes at the younger level in high school and college, to understand they do have support around them and that they can come out and feel comfortable. And honestly, that is going to help save lives.”"
What Fujita has to say is important, but his opinion is becoming increasingly standard among players, and that is a good thing. However, it should be worth exploring just how many players would want to come out regardless, especially to a locker room full of men. Is that an inherently uncomfortable situation? That’s not something for any straight person to decide, which is why what the NFL is currently doing is so wrong.
While no one would care about having an openly gay teammate – that isn’t being disputed – it seems possible that many players would still choose to keep their orientation to themselves. And if not, that’s okay too. It’s all about their own comfort level and the notion that teammates would accept them either way.
But what the NFL is doing – allegedly questioning the orientation of prospects – is obviously destructive on many levels.
What comments like Fujita’s do is hopefully offer a much-needed level of understanding and acceptance that is simply in line with the larger scope of society. Let’s not kid ourselves – gay players have always been in locker rooms, and things have proceeded normally. If an active player decides to come out – opening himself to an unprecedented media circus – he will still be the only thing that matters: a teammate.