For the next two weeks we’re running a daily series of our conversations on the red carpet at the ESPYs. This is the sixth in the series.
When former Tennessee Titan Wade Davis came out publicly on Outsports last month, it captured headlines across the sports world. Those headlines made their way into a Tennessee Titans quarterbacks meeting, Matt Hasselbeck told Outsports.
"The quarterback room conversation was that, 'Hey, has anybody played with an openly gay teammate?' And nobody had," Hasselbeck told Outsports. "And it’s kind of irrelevant to the discussion in terms of how we would view that person as a teammate or how we would view that person as a friend, or how we would trust that person."
Hasselbeck, who showed a sharp wit and a great sense of humor in the interview, said the oft-cited issue of a gay teammate in the locker room did come up with the other Titans quarterbacks.
"The question did come up, well, what about in the shower? And those are tricky, delicate issues. But so are female reporters in the locker room. There’s rarely a clear, black and white answer on a lot of tricky issues. But I think, at least for the three quarterbacks in our room, it was kind of a shrug, yeah, so what?"
The Titans currently have four quarterbacks on their roster: Jake Locker, Rusty Smith, rookie Nick Stevens and Hasselbeck.
While he's never had a teammate come out to him, Hasselbeck is sure he and every other multi-year veteran has had a closeted gay teammate along the road. Hasselbeck is entering his 14th season in the NFL. He previously played for the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, whom he lead to Super Bowl XL in the 2005 season.
"Statistically, it’s a fact that any of us who played in the NFL for a period of time has played with a gay teammate," Hasselbeck said. "That’s just a fact. If somebody came out, I think it would be brave of him, because of what the culture has been. But I’m sure we all have."
Hasselbeck, brother of ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck and brother-in-law to The View co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck, said he doesn't know of any gay relatives, but he has gay friends.
"For me, I have friends who are not like me, full head of hair; I’ve got some friends like me, folically challenged. It’s all good, either way."
PHOTO: Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (8) looks up from the sideline during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Fernando Medina-US PRESSWIRE