Writing for ESPNW (ESPN's female-targeted initiative), Jane McManus asks the increasingly tired question, "Can the NFL accept gay players?" Can the NFL do it? Absolutely. Will the NFL do it at some point? Absolutely. I mean, what's going to happen? Is the guy going to get killed? Cut from his team? Dropped by sponsors? No, no and no. Still, McManus talked to various athletes to get their perspective. LaDainian Tomlinson:
It would be tough for a gay person just to feel comfortable in the locker room about coming out, because there are so many jokes. But maybe there will be one, one day, someone who's brave enough to do so. If someone could deal with that and say, 'You know I don't care, I'm here to play football, this is my own deal,' then more power to them.
You would definitely have to have an extremely strong sense of who you were, because guys will mess with you. Not in a derogatory way, but about your shoes, your earrings, anything.
Their comment rings true, but it's not a reason to stay in the closet. Teasing? Jokes? That's the worst you can think of? We hear from athletes all the time that their locker room was filled with gay epithets...until they came out. And we also hear that they welcome the teasing: It's good-natured and it's a bonding experience.
It's also irrelevant whether the NFL is "ready" for a gay player or not. Baseball wasn't "ready" for racial integration, yet it happened because a couple men decided it would. The NFL will have its first openly gay player when one person decides it will, not when Tomlinson, Fitzgerald, or anyone else thinks the league is ready.