NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said today, apparently for the first time, that "discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation is not consistent with our values and is unacceptable in the National Football League." This came the same day the league announced it will take action to protect players based on their sexual orientation.
Posters will be displayed in locker rooms of all 32 teams conveying the NFL's anti-discrimination policy, while the league will conduct training on the matter -- including for rookies and those involved in hiring and scouting new players -- and strengthen protocols concerning the reporting of complaints of discrimination or harassment by players.
The league met earlier this month with representatives of three groups fighting homophobia in sports. Goodell's statement came after meeting with New York state Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman, who said the NFL agreed to promote a "culture of inclusion." The meetings with Schneiderman were informal and cooperative.
Schneiderman got involved after some players at the NFL scouting combine in February were asked questions appeared designed to determine their sexual orientation. Goodell at the time said such questions were "unacceptable." His statement Wednesday about broader acceptance of sexual orientation in the league is by my determination the first time he has said such a thing publicly. Goodell has an openly gay brother.
It is good news that the league will regularly include sexual orientation in its diversity training, not only for players but for team officials as well. This will include the rookie symposium in June. I am curious to see what the anti-discrimination posters in the locker rooms will look like.