Each week we’ll be taking a look at the NFL teams involved in the Sunday Night Football game and track their record — team, coaches and players — on LGBT issues.
Here are five LGBT angles for the game this week.
1) Esera Tuaolo played for both the Packers and Falcons
In 1991, the Packers drafted DE Esera Tuaolo out of Oregon State in the second round. He was the first Packers rookie to start all 16 games for the team his rookie season. He stayed there for two seasons and eventually played for the Super Bowl-bound Falcons in 1998.
The Packers have kept Tuaolo in their fold, even inviting him to sing the National Anthem before a game against the Chicago Bears in 2014.
Tuaolo has the distinction of being the last player ever to record a tackle against John Elway. Tuaolo came out publicly in 2002, after he had retired from the NFL.
Incidentally, David Kopay, the first former professional athlete to ever come out publicly, also played for the Packers.
2) Falcons assistant GM Scott Pioli is 2017 ‘Ally of the Year’
There have been two big “coming outs” in the NFL in 2017, and Falcons assistant GM Scott Pioli had a role in both of them. First was Ryan O’Callaghan, the former Chiefs and Patriots tackle who worked for Pioli at both franchises. Pioli played a supporting role in O’Callaghan’s journey and his coming-out story earlier this year. Two months later the NFL got its first publicly out coach — San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers — who publicly thanked Pioli for his support.
3) Aaron Rodgers has strong ties to O’Callaghan too
Rodgers and O’Callaghan played high school football against one another, then played together for two seasons at the Univ. of California. The two became friends, and Rodgers offered O’Callaghan his personal support when his gay friend came out to him several years ago. He recently reiterated public support.
4) Falcons coach asked draft prospects if they were gay
Before the 2016 NFL Draft, Falcons coach Marcquand Manuel asked draft prospects if they were gay. The coach apologized, the team did a sensitivity training, and everybody moved on. A year later, Manuel was promoted to defensive coordinator, the role he will take in the game Sunday night.
5) Packers safety HaHa Clinton-Dix wore Orlando shirt under jersey last season
Clinton-Dix, who is from Orlando, didn’t shy away from his support for Orlando and its LGBT community last season in the wake of the Pulse nightclub shootings, wearing a rainbow-colored T-shirt that he proudly showcased to the world after the team’s game against the New York Giants. “I wouldn’t feel different about them, wouldn’t treat them any different way,” Clinton-Dix told Outsports’ Jeremy Brener earlier this year, when asked about having a gay teammate. “Respect is respect.”
Outsports prediction for the game: Packers 31, Falcons 23. The Falcons escaped last week with a win against a bad Bears team, and the Packers will be a nearly unstoppable force on offense this time around.