Former NFL wide receiver Michael Westbrook, now an elite martial artist, discusses his 1997 fight with then Washington Redskins teammate Stephen Davis and the gay angle surrounding it.
The fight in practice made headlines when Westbrook pounded Davis, a running back, after words were exchanged. Westbrook told his version in a profile on ESPN.com by Pat Yasinskas.
The video clips were all over the national news and Westbrook said the incident left a lot of people with the false impression that he was a homosexual. Westbrook said the details have been misreported for more than a decade.
"He didn't call me a name,'' Westbrook said of Davis. "That's where it gets mixed up. It got reported and it got changed into something monstrous. I was talking to him, Brian Mitchell and Terry Allen. They were talking about 'letting us handle the team.' I was like, 'You all are a bunch of jealous [f----]. You all are just jealous of everything I have.'
"Stephen Davis told me I needed to shut up and all that stuff I was saying sounded like some gay [s---], like I'm soft, not like I'm gay. That's all he said. It wasn't like, 'You're gay,' but it got changed to that really quick. So the connotation is Michael Westbrook is gay.''
The connotation has faded, but not completely.
"My ex-girlfriend heard it about a year ago from this guy and she went nuts,'' Westbrook said. "Everybody that knows me knows that's the farthest thing from the truth. For about three years, I wanted to lock myself in the house and never come out.''
The article details Westbrook’s loathing of his NFL career ("I didn't like the lifestyle. I didn't like the guys.") and his new love of Brazilian jujitsu living in Arizona. Westbrook, 35, does not miss football one bit, though it made him rich enough to live comfortably.
As for his fight with Davis, it is no secret that any slur revolving around a player’s manhood will get many NFL players ready to rumble. Being called “gay,” whether it means soft, sleeping with men or both, is, sadly, still about the worst label a pro jock can have. Westbrook knows that first-hand. –Jim Buzinski
Hat tip to Towleroad.