For the next two weeks we’re running a daily series of our conversations on the red carpet at the ESPYs. This is the fifth in the series.
Seattle Seahawks running back Michael Robinson is no stranger to gay people. Having played for the San Francisco 49ers for four years, he said he received fan letters...about his football pants. He also has a family member whom he thinks is gay, but he hasn't seen the man in several years. Robinson said he has no problem with gay people.
"I embrace them," Robinson told Outsports. "They're people. It's not going to affect us playing spades together. It's not going to affect us having a conversation together. So, I wouldn't have any problem with that."
While Robinson isn't aware of a former gay teammate, he's sure, based on statistics, that he's played with one at some point in his football career.
"I've played on so many teams, I've been playing since I was 5 years old. Just from five years in college to seven years in the pros, the odds are that I've played with somebody who's a homosexual. So probably, but I don't know."
The tricky part for Robinson is the locker room. When asked how he would feel if a teammate of his came out this year, he expressed some reservations.
"I'm gonna be totally honest with you, it would have me feeling a certain type of way," Robinson told Outsports. "Just because of how the locker room is. That'd be like, just giving an example, me dressing up like a woman and being in a woman's locker room. I'm turned on by that. You just don't know how that dynamic will be. So I think it would be hard in a locker room in the National Football League. Just the interactions, how the locker room is, I think it would be tough."
We've heard this in the past from athletes. While it's disheartening, it simply comes from a lack of education and exposure. Robinson knows how he would feel walking into a women's locker room, so he assumes every gay man would feel the same around him. He and others don't understand that the team dynamic, along with the struggles teammates go through together, change that dramatically. Most gay athletes I've talked to have said they go out of their way to make their straight teammates feel comfortable.
Still, Robinson didn't say he was against a gay teammate by any stretch. He said he just doesn't know. His honesty is very much appreciated. It's with that honesty that we're able to advance the conversation.
Robinson, who has gained 830 yards in his six NFL seasons, is making a move into the media with his "Real Robb Report." During the ESPYs, he was stationed near Outsports. You can see his interviews with various athletes on his Web site. You can also find him on Twitter.
PHOTO: Seattle Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson (26) looks up at the scoreboard in between plays during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Baltimore 22-17. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE