Here are some of the sports figures and organizations that have come out publicly against Indiana's "religious freedom" law:
--All four coaches in the NCAA men's Final Four: Bo Ryan, John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski and Tom Izzo
--Colts punter Pat McAfee
--Former NBA players Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller
--USC Athletic Director Pat Haden
--University of Connecticut Athletic Director Warde Manuel
Notice something missing? Yes, the NFL. The league has been silent on the issue, except for this statement from a spokesman:
"Our policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. We are continuing to analyze the implications of the law."
This is along the lines of the statements issued earlier in the week by the NBA and WNBA and Indianapolis Colts and it doesn't go far enough. These leagues are far behind other corporations, including those as different as Walmart and Apple, in condemning such laws.
I am focusing on the NFL for two reasons: It is the most powerful sports league in the country, and it sets the agenda in many way. And its silence is a stark contrast to the pressure it applied last year when a similar bill was up in Arizona. The league reportedly went so far as to choose an alternate site for the 2015 Super Bowl. The law was vetoed by Arizona's governor. Further back, in 1991 the league pulled the Super Bowl it had awarded to Arizona until the state recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Now that Indiana is poised to vote a "fix" in the law, this will let the league off the hook since it is back to the status quo (LGBT still will not have employment protections, as before, for example). Why would the NFL have been vocal about the Arizona law and quiet about Indiana's? Had the league come out with a statement opposed to the law and that it was considering its options, it would have been huge. The NFL Combine is held annually in Indianapolis and the city is going to bid on another Super Bowl.
Pat Haden at USC is boycotting a college football playoff meeting in Indianapolis to support his gay son. I wish NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had said something similar on behalf of his gay brother.
By sitting this out, the league looks indecisive. This is par for the course in the past year. League officials badly mishandled the Ray Rice domestic violence issue, and on a less-serious matter, has taken more than two months to reveal whether footballs were improperly inflated in the AFC title game.
Instead of being a clear and forceful voice against discrimination, the NFL has chosen to stay on the sidelines and wait it out. This is shameful. When NASCAR is more proactive than the NFL, something is wrong. Then again, the league has more serious issues to deal with, like whether to change the extra point. Priorities.