Seattle Seahawks lineman Chris Clemons raised some eyebrows with his odd assertion that any gay player who came out publicly in the NFL would be "selfish" by making himself "bigger than the team." While Clemons did say he would be fine with a gay teammate, his comment shows he knows nothing about the coming out process.
Yet his views are becoming increasingly common, that a gay player would be a distraction. Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings and Connor Barwin, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, are having none of it. Barwin, who gave a kick-ass interview to Outsports last year where he talked about his gay brother, told USA Today:
"I don't think it would be selfish," he said. "As a heterosexual man, I can't speak to what it must feel like to be gay in the NFL. I don't know what somebody goes through. I imagine its very hard to go through. So I would support that teammate no matter what.
"I don't think it would be a distraction. And even if it was, the NFL has distractions in every locker room. You would work through it like anything else. If somebody had a problem with a teammate being gay, they would realize very quickly that it was something they could get over."
Kluwe is his usual and articulate self, writing a guest column for CNN. After asking, "Why the f*** do I even have to write this column for a major news organization to talk about something that shouldn't even remotely be a factor in sports?" he makes a salient point about the distraction issue:
The idea that a gay player will be a distraction needs to change.
Coaches, administrative personnel -- will an openly gay player bring extra attention? Maybe, but guess what -- there's a whole bunch of other crap that happens during the season every year, anything from sexting to arrests to profane letters, and somehow we've managed to find a way through it each time without the entire edifice of football collapsing into ruin.
Instead of looking at an openly gay player as a distraction, ask yourselves -- how much better would that player play if he didn't have to worry about hiding a core part of who he is? How many more sacks would he have, free of that pressure? How many more receptions? How many more rushing yards?
Fans, media -- will an openly gay player be a distraction? Only if you make it one.
Both replies sum it up -- the world is filled with "distractions" and using that as a reason for a player to stay closeted is trying to put a nice face of "concern" on homophobia.