One of the best things about Jason Collins coming out is that the media are asking players in other sports their views on gays in the locker room. There is no bigger sport in the U.S. than the NFL, and we have more examples of the changing attitudes in the sport.
Carson Palmer, new quarterback of the Arizona Cardinals after stints with the Bengals and Raiders, told the NFL Network (video here) that an openly gay teammate would have been accepted on any team he has played on.
"In our locker room I think he would be accepted very easily," Palmer said. "I've been around the league a long time and you play with a lot of guys from a lot of different backgrounds, and that's just the world we live in. I don't think there would be any issues in this locker room. I think guys would accept him. All the locker rooms I've been in, in fact, since I've been in the NFL, I think he would be accepted very easily."
"I think it's a generational thing," said punter Pat McAfee. "Our locker room, a younger generation, is very much more accepting because we've been around more gay people.
"In the recent years, gay folks have been much more open. A lot of us have gay friends and we kind of understand that they're just like us, they're just interested in different things."
The sports world is changing fast. Even five years ago, it would have been hard to find a dozen players willing to comment on anything surrounding gay issues. Now, more and more players are coming out every day with words of support, from vets like Palmer to younger players like the Colts' second-year receiver T.Y. Hilton, who said, "I would have that person's back and I would always be there for them."
At the same time, we have former Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, now a broadcaster, who said the locker room still isn't ready (though he personally would be). His arguments are ill-formed and vague and reflect, I think, an era in the NFL that is rapidly coming to a close.