Eli Apple, an Ohio State cornerback, said the first question he was asked by an unnamed Atlanta Falcons coach at the NFL Combine last week was not one he was expecting. He told Comcast Sports in Philadelphia:
"I've been asked a lot of weird questions. I don't know if I could say on TV," Apple said.
"The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, 'So do you like men?' It was like the first thing he asked me. It was weird. I was just like, 'no.' He was like, 'if you're going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that's how it is around here, you're going to have to get used to it.' I guess he was joking but they just ask most of these questions to see how you're going to react."
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, after seeing the Comcast report, apologized.
"I am really disappointed in the question that was asked by one of our coaches," Quinn said. "I have spoken to the coach that interviewed Eli Apple and explained to him how inappropriate and unprofessional this was. I have reiterated this to the entire coaching staff and I want to apologize to Eli for this even coming up. This is not what the Atlanta Falcons are about and it is not how we are going to conduct ourselves."
In addition to the question having nothing to do with football, it violated laws on the type of question one can ask a prospective employee during a job interview, which this was. I don't blame Apple for finding it weird given the context of being at a football skills camp.
In 2013, tight end Nick Casa was asked by team if he liked girls. This prompted the league and the players union to agree that such questions were out of line. "I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our CBA and player rights," NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said. "I hope that they will seek out information as to what teams have engaged in this type of discrimination and we should then discuss appropriate discipline."
Had Apple wanted to flummox the coach, his best response would have been, "I don't like men, but I do love cock."
Update: The NFL issued this statement to Pro Football Talk: "This is disappointing and clearly inappropriate as the Falcons acknowledged," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said. "We will look into it." Since they know who the coach is, a fine or suspension might be coming.