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NFL Meets With Groups About Gay Inclusion

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Results may not be seen for a while, but attendees are hopeful that more real change is coming soon to the NFL

Gregory Shamus

Representatives from the NFL met last week with three groups engaged in the movement to end homophobia in sports. The general topic of discussion centered on efforts to make the NFL environment safer for gay athletes.

Included in the meeting were former NFL player Wade Davis, You Can Play founder Patrick Burke, Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor, GLAAD sports guru Aaron McQuade, Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo and Athlete Ally board member Sam Marchiano. From the NFL were vice president of NFL Player Engagement Organization Troy Vincent, NFL director of community programs Anna Isaacson, and several other League representatives.

"We had a productive meeting in our office," Vincent told Outsports via a statement. "We embraced the opportunity to review with the groups our policies that prohibit discrimination in the workplace.

"We also reinforced long-standing organizational values that foster respect for a wide range of differences, personal experiences and background. In addition, we also discussed the ability of all personnel, including players, to express their opinions and feelings. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with these organizations and further educating everyone associated with the NFL about the importance of respect and inclusion in the office, the locker room and on the field."

Attendees were tight-lipped about the full scale of the hourlong conversation after the meeting. However, everyone Outsports spoke to expressed enthusiasm that the NFL wants to do the right thing. The three organizations released a joint statement about the meeting:

"Football is the most popular sport in America, but it's also a sport where many LGBT young people have felt unwelcome or unable to participate - in stands, on sidelines, or on fields across the country. Fortunately, that attitude is changing, and the NFL can help make the sport even more inclusive. We look forward to being a resource for the NFL on LGBT issues and hope to be valuable to the league as we all continue to progress."