One of the best things about Jason Collins coming out as gay, is that the media everywhere are asking other athletes their views on gay teammates (see our list of 187 reactions). An excellent response came from free agent cornerback Charle Woodson, who was a guest on the NFL Network. Woodson played 15 seasons with the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers, so he has a great perspective.
"With Jason Collins coming out and letting everybody know he was gay, it forces you to deal with it," Woodson said." If you’re someone who is against gay people, then my question is what you’re going to do once a player comes out in your locker room? Are you going to quit football?
If you’re a coach and you don’t like the fact that a player is gay, are you going to stop coaching? I don’t think so. It would force guys to deal with it and you’d get over it. I’m sure there are probably players in the locker room who have thought another player was gay in the past. It’s not going to stop you from playing football. Life will go on and everybody will keep going out there doing their job."
I have not yet heard any athlete frame this way and put the onus not on the gay player, but on those who might have a problem with him. "It’s not going to stop you from playing football." Absolutely. If a teammate had a problem, he's going to have to deal with it since throwing a tantrum won't do much good and make him look like a baby. A coach with an issue could be more problematic, but even he would have to face the league office, which is now committed to supporting an openly gay player.
Commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in again on the issue, in a separate interview on the NFL Network:
"I have such great respect for our players," Goodell told NFL.com's Steve Wyche in a sitdown interview Thursday. "I don't think it will just be tolerated, I think it will be accepted. These are individuals who play in our league. We're all different in some fashion, and we're accepting of our differences.
"That's what this is all about. To me, if it happens in the league, that's a personal choice that someone would decide to do. But I know their teammates and teams, and I think the fans will all respond the right way."
Goodell had long been silent on the subject of gays in the league, even when Chris Culliver made his infamous comments at the Super Bowl. But he is now talking about the subject in virtually every interview, another sign of how fast acceptance is occurring in pro sports.