Each week, Outsports stops the clock for an instant reply of the week that was.
But this week, a straight NFL player dominates our list for no reason other than the fact his clashes with the Oakland Raiders have redefined “drama.” Anybody who thinks an NFL player coming out as gay or bisexual would be a “distraction” should realize that player won’t be able to hold a candle to Antonio Brown and Raiders management.
Drama Kings: Antonio Brown and the Oakland Raiders
The drama started in the offseason, with Antonio Brown arriving to Oakland Raiders training camp in a hot air balloon. And that was just the start. With the season opener against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football on the horizon, the drama continued to overshadow his team, without Brown having played even a single game. Adam Stites of our partner SB Nation reports the Raiders released Brown this morning after what he called “a tumultuous half-year that saw Brown clash with Raiders coaches and executives, eventually forcing the team to nullify nearly $30 million in guarantees before making the former All-Pro a free agent. The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t get much of a return for losing one of the best receivers of the last decade or so. But the real coup for the Steelers was the quiet that came with Brown’s departure. After months of drama that played out in the public eye, Pittsburgh traded Brown to Oakland, where he immediately signed a three-year, $50 million extension. The Raiders inherited the soap opera, and it hit them like a truck right before the start of the season.”
Deadline’s Lauren Theisen summed it up best: “a seemingly endless month of drama that included nightmare feet, a global search for an acceptable helmet, plenty of missed practices, a heated argument with his GM, a video that may have used an illegal recording of his coach, a hefty fine and loss of $30 million in guaranteed money, and finally, a demand for his release.” Now the Raiders begin their 2019 season with what Stites accurately described as “a massive void atop their WR depth chart.” But don’t pity the Raiders; they are just as deserving of the drama king title, given how this all played out with Brown’s so-called “guarantees.” They’re parting ways with Brown without paying him a cent. And it’s really not over. Brown can still — and is likely to — file a grievance via the NFL Players Association to fight the suspension of his guarantees, and that could drag out for months. Talk about a “distraction.”
Winners: 13 out gay and bi NFL players
The NFL kicks off its 100th season this weekend and that’s a good time to honor the contributions of the men who have been openly gay and bi and played in the league. Outsports co-founders Jim Buzinski and Cyd Zeigler noted that number grew to 13 last week when former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Ryan Russell came out as bisexual on Outsports and ESPN. Last year, former Cowboys linebacker Jeff Rohrer came out as gay after marrying his partner. While Russell identifies as bi and is dating a man, the other 12 identify as gay. These openly gay and bi NFL players have been trailblazers in the league’s 100 years.
Losers: Fans shouting ‘puto’ at MetLife Stadium
FIFA told US Soccer to suspend its match Friday night if Mexico fans chanted ‘puto.’ Hours before the match, US Soccer sent a message in both Spanish and English to ticket holders about avoiding homophobic “chants or gestures” at the match. In the past, messages like this have been ignored by Mexico fans. As Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler wrote: in the 73rd minute, fans started to chant and US Soccer implemented phase 1 of FIFA’s protocol: They made an announcement. They never got to Phase 2, which would have been a stoppage of play. Mexico easily defeated the USMNT 3-0.
Winners: Minor League Baseball and LGBTQ fans
MiLB teams from Virginia to Florida held their first Pride games this season, and saw attendance spike: Birmingham, Biloxi, Greensboro, Durham, Charleston, Gwinnett, Norfolk, Springfield, Daytona, Richmond, Lexington and Charleston all held successful Pride Nights this season. And as MiLB diversity and inclusion associate Benjamin Pereira told Outsports, for many of those ballclubs, it was their very first Pride Night, and those games boosted attendance as much as 35%.
Loser: Drew Brees
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees recorded a video for the lobbying group Focus on the Family but said Thursday that he was unaware the group has an anti-LGBTQ agenda. ”I was not aware of any of the things they said about them lobbying for anti-gay, any type of messaging, or inequality, or any type of hate-type related stuff,” Brees told reporters after blowback to his video where he promoted reading the Bible. The video for “Bring Your Bible To School Day” is produced by Focus on the Family. The short video encourages people to read the Bible but has no political message. However, Focus on the Family has been one of the main anti-LGBTQ lobbying groups in the country for years. It is opposed to same-sex marriage, transgender rights and endorses conversion therapy, among others. What makes Brees a loser is what he didn’t do: have the video pulled and denounce Focus on the Family. Which is what co-founder Jim Buzinski said he should do, since the group promotes exactly what he said he opposes.
The esports champion came out as non-binary this week. “I’ve been thinking critically about myself these last couple of months, and my entire life perspective on how I look. The more I reflect... the more this makes sense to me… I’m coming out as a Non-Binary Man,” SonicFox unveiled on his Twitter account Tuesday, as reported by Brian C. Bell. “I’ve always found myself enjoying things that were typically considered ‘not masculine,’” said Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, “And I’ve always thought of myself as 50% masc and 50% feminine.”
Loser: Cody Rhodes
During an appearance at AAA Triplemania in Mexico City last month, AEW’s Cody Rhodes joined AAA stalwart Psycho Clown and a debuting former UFC champion Cain Velasquez in leading the crowd in a “puto” chant following their match. After being contacted by Outsports contributor Brian C. Bell, a spokesperson for AEW said Rhodes believed he was joining in on a “post-match tradition in Mexico” and didn’t know the term’s “negative connotations.”
Winner: Kyle Tanguay
Kyle Tanguay is out and proud, and he’s the first male cheerleader for the Eagles in 30 years.
Loser: Dave Chappelle
One of stand-up’s all time innovators falls back on overplayed trans athlete stereotypes in his new “Sticks & Stones” special on Netflix. As Ken Schultz reported, Dave Chappelle started by making something less than an original observation: namely, if men and women are essentially equal, there would be no WNBA. He then goes on to imagine what would happen if LeBron James“changed his gender,” picturing the Lakers forward joining the WNBA “where he will score 840 points a game.”
Winner: Kiera Hogan
Impact Knockout Kiera Hogan will speak to LGBTQ youth and advocacy groups on her “Coming Out Party” press tour and co-host a drag show on Bound For Glory weekend in October.
Winner: Jacob Grinwis
Jacob Grinwis fell in love with running and came out. He didn’t let homophobic comments stop him from attending his dream school, Boise State. “If I can encourage one person to be more loving of themselves, then sharing my story is worth it,” he wrote in coming out publicly on Outsports. “My goal is to inspire any other LGBTQ people to find love and acceptance in the world of sports.”
That’s all for this week! We’ll bring you a fresh list of winners and losers next Saturday. Got a name we missed, or want to challenge our choices? Comment here or on Facebook or Instagram, tweet at us, message us via any social media, or just plain email us at email@example.com Thanks!