Chicago Bears linebacker Sam Acho was discussing the diversity in NFL locker rooms and how it made it hard to find one unifying way to deal with the controversy over the national anthem.
“It’s really hard. It can be confusing at times on how you find an answer, how you find a solution, because not everyone has the same beliefs, not everyone has the same experiences, not everyone has the same skin color, not everyone has the same religious background, not everyone has the same sexual orientation,” Acho told reporters before the Hall of Fame game last week. “We come from so many different backgrounds and so many different experiences, so it’s going to be hard to figure out one solution that fits everyone.
“Even if you don’t agree or you haven’t experienced some pain that somebody else has experienced, you do it for them.”
The phrase “not everyone has the same sexual orientation” stuck out. It’s rare to hear an NFL player say matter-of-factly that there are gay or bisexual players in the league. Even those NFL players who are supportive (and Outsports has talked to dozens and dozens) generally demur when asked if they have had a gay teammate or know of gay players.
Acho, 29, is entering his eighth season, his fourth with the Bears after four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He is the Bears’ NFL Players Association representative and vice president of the association’s executive committee. He clearly is more on top of what’s going on in the league and his comments suggest someone who is aware of the diversity in a locker room.
I did not take it that Acho was outing anyone currently on the Bears since I read his statement as being universal about locker rooms. There are with zero openly gay NFL players out of 1,696 that will make one of 32 opening day rosters, but it’s clear that at some point Acho had a teammate he knew was gay or bi. And the world did not end.