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Moment #36: Jeremy Shockey says he would not want a gay teammate

Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.

Pro football, 2002: Then New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey created a media stir when he declared that he would not want a gay teammate. His reasoning? The showers, of course. From our story at the time:

In a Sept. 10 [2002] interview on The Howard Stern radio show, Shockey was asked on-air by producer Gary Del 'Abate if he thought there were any gay players in the NFL.

"I don't know, I don't like to think about that. I hope not," Shockey said.

When asked if he ever dealt with any gay teammates on his college football team, Shockey gave a somewhat confusing answer:

"No, I mean, if I knew there was a gay guy on my college football team, I probably wouldn't, you know, stand for it."

Stern's sidekick Robin Quivers replied: " How could you not stand for it? What do you mean?"

Shockey said, "You know, I think, you know, they're going to be in the shower with us and stuff, so I don't think that's gonna work. That's not gonna work, you know?"

The media was starting to pay more attention to the issue of gays in sports, and Shockey backtracked. He said he regretted saying it ("Whatever I did to offend people, I apologize.") A year later, Shockey was quoted calling then Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells a "homo," though he insisted someone else said it.

The reaction to Shockey was more muted than it would have been today, but the fact that he felt a need to apologize (even half-heartedly) was a sign that it was becoming harder to play the homophobia card in sports.

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