NFL credentials first gay media outlet
Outsports will be at Super Bowl XLIX and is believed to be the first gay publication credentialed by the NFL for the Super Bowl.
This Super Bowl couldn't have been more special for me.
As we reported last week, Outsports was the first LGBT publication to be credentialed by the NFL for the Super Bowl. I lucked out that it was me who got to use the credential; Jim and I had a deal that he would go if the Denver Broncos had been in it. Andrew Luck made me the lucky guy; Jim didn't want to be anywhere near the Super Bowl this year.
Walking around Phoenix this week, from Radio Row to Roger Goodell's press conference to NFL Honors and today at the Super Bowl, many people in the media knew Outsports' presence - alongside NFL Network and ESPN, Bleacher Report and the New York Times - was another strong signal that the sports world is changing. While Michael Sam's current absence from the NFL is something many of them are taking notice of, Outsports' presence here was a breath of good news. The NFL front office, people in the media, and so many others in sports just don't care that a reporter might be gay or that someone might be asking people questions about gay athletes. We have come a long way from just five years ago.
Growing up a lifelong New England Patriots fan, it was particularly special that my favorite team was here playing. All week I covered the two teams, their fans and the impending game evenly and, I believe, without bias (even if my distaste for Richard Sherman has shown through quite clearly). You can take the boy out of New England, but you can't take the Pats fan out of the boy. I would have come and enjoyed the week in Phoenix either way; Having that Patriots logo everywhere just made it that much more meaningful.
The fact that the Patriots won was simply icing on the cake. And to do so in such shocking fashion made it all the more sweet. People in the press box aren't allowed to cheer. The press is supposed to maintain a fair, balanced atmosphere in which everyone can get their work done. When Malcolm Butler intercepted a last-minute pass from Russell Wilson, nearly everyone in the press box jumped out their seats in disbelief. While many Super Bowls have come down to the last minute, this was the most shocking.
After the game I was in the belly of University of Phoenix Stadium, walking past Luke Wilson as he headed to the locker room, standing feet away from Bill Belichick as he "answered" questions from the media, even venturing into the New England Patriots locker room. It's that locker room where so many gay people have been told all our lives that they don't belong. Yet there I was - even if many of the players didn't know who I am, many in the media did. They didn't care. The players don't care. They don't bat an eye. There are women in there, there are straight men, there are gay men. Nobody cares.
It's also fitting that the Patriots, based in the first state to have same-sex marriage and with an owner in Robert Kraft who has been so supportive of LGBT causes, would win the Super Bowl the first year Outsports is credentialed. One didn't have anything to do with the other - it's just a bit poetic.
Now we head into the NFL offseason. The NFL is never out of the spotlight, as the NFL Combine is just a couple weeks away.
Yet the final chapter of the 2014 season was written in shocking, exciting, historic fashion. And Outsports is proud to have been one tiny, minuscule part of that.