New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a statement today aimed at forcing the NFL to make statements about sexual-orientation discrimination in the League. It was a strange mixed-bag of demands. The first two requests are things the League has already done and did most recently just last week:
I ask that the League clarify its position by issuing a public statement that any form of discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation by League teams or their employees or agents against potential recruits or players constitutes a violation of state, local and, in some cases, contractual law, and will not be tolerated.
I also urge the League to memorialize this commitment in a written policy that, once finalized, is appropriately distributed and disseminated throughout the League. Our office stands prepared to offer guidance and support in the development of this policy.
Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws. It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation. We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the Scouting Combine. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.
So 90% of the AG's letter is making statements we already know and demanding actions the League has literally already taken.
Certainly, the NFL can do more on these issues. I've asked them to, as have many other groups. And we know they are working toward doing that. As I've said, I believe the people in the NFL want to do the right thing; And I'm confident they are trying to figure out what that right thing is. You Can Play's Patrick Burke said as much this morning:
We agree that the NFL can do more to help ensure LGBT equality in their sport, but we believe it is important to remember that this is like stopping a battleship moving at full speed. It requires hard work, an understanding of how the league operates, and patience. The NFL is a massive organization, comprising thousands of employees working for 32 unique teams in hundreds of distinct roles. The NFL has been taking proactive measures for months, reaching out to us to help find ways to implement policies that are actually effective and not just window dressing. We remain hopeful that we can achieve with the NFL what we have already achieved with the NHL.
But this bloviating letter is nothing more than a publicity stunt by a politician who sees the writing on the wall and wants to be able to take credit for something when it inevitably happens.
However, there is one sentence of the politician's two-page letter that actually has some substance to it and falls squarely int he scope of his office:
We will be seeking a meeting with the League staff supervising your investigation of the incidents reported by prospective players.
Many have worried that the NFL wouldn't take this investigation seriously. I've been told they are, but I don't know for sure. With the AG's office getting involved, we know the investigation will definitely happen. So while he isn't asking them to do anything new here, he is making sure they do it.