Three of the teams remaining in the NFL playoffs have made clear gestures of inclusion toward the LGBT community.
And then there are the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The New England Patriots have been one of the most LGBT-inclusive franchises in all of professional sports. The Patriots were one of three pro teams to sign onto an amicus brief several years ago supporting same-sex marriage as the Supreme Court debated the issue. The team has also sponsored the Gay Bowl and welcomed back openly gay former player Ryan O’Callaghan with open arms. Several players — including Rob Gronkowski and the injured Julian Edelman — have made it clear they support LGBT inclusion.
On the flip side, the public embrace of candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election by several members of the Patriots left a bad taste in the mouths of many LGBT people.
The Minnesota Vikings have a mixed history. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer was suspended by the NFL for saying gay people should be nuked on an island, comments brought to light by former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe. Yet the team has also recently embraced openly gay former player Esera Tuaolo, having him perform with his big voice at a game earlier this season. The team is also endorsing Tuaolo’s Inclusion Party in Minneapolis several days before the Super Bowl later this month.
The Philadelphia Eagles made an incredible gesture last season, inviting openly gay longtime Eagles fan Joe Guckin — known to Outsports readers as Joe In Philly — to a game weeks before he passed away. Players and staff could not have been more welcoming of Joe, and it’s a gesture we will always cherish.
As for the Jaguars... there’s not much to say.
It’s not that the Jaguars have been anti-LGBT. We can’t find any record of any of the team doing anything that is straight-up homophobic or transphobic. Yet with the other three teams making clear welcoming gestures to the LGBT community, the Jags are alone with no record. Tight end Marcedes Lewis has reportedly said something pro-LGBT in the past.
Despite all of this, there will certainly be LGBT people across the community cheering for all of these teams during Conference Championship weekend en route to Super Bowl 52!