There’s been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the possibility that one or more gay NFL players might be preparing to come out of the closet. At first it seemed to be mere speculation, but the chatter continued.
Today, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker (and now free agent) Brendon Ayanbadejo, an outspoken straight ally for LGBT equality, dropped the strongest hint yet that an NFL coming-out may indeed be in the works. And not just one player, but possibly up to four at once.
The Baltimore Sun reports:
Ayanbadejo, who was given recognition along with [Chris] Kluwe from former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue at the event Thursday night, predicted that more than one player may come out as gay during their playing career. Ayanbadejo said the groundwork is being laid to reduce the pressure on such a player, and said as many as four players could conceivably come out simultaneously.
“I think it will happen sooner than you think,” Ayanbadejo said. “We’re in talks with a handful of players who are considering it. There are up to four players being talked to right now and they’re trying to be organized so they can come out on the same day together. It would make a major splash and take the pressure off one guy. It would be a monumental day if a handful or a few guys come out.
“Of course, there would be backlash. If they could share the backlash, it would be more positive. It’s cool. It’s exciting. We’re in talks with a few guys who are considering it. The NFL and organizations are already being proactive and open if a player does it and if something negative happens. We’ll see what happens.”
While such an unprecedented coming-out would undoubtedly be incredibly difficult and trigger a lot of anti-gay backlash, it would also completely reshape the conversation around homophobia in sports. And imagine the amazing and inspiring message it would send to other gay NFL stars and youth football players across the country!
For those of you who don’t already know, I was born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin — a small, conservative Midwestern town which absolutely reveres its NFL team, the Green Bay Packers. While I’m not the world’s most rabid football fan myself, I selfishly hope that one of the gay players who chooses to come out might be a Packer player. I don’t think I can overstate what a difference that would make for the conversation about LGBT rights and the public perception of the LGBT community in northeastern Wisconsin.
Sports blog SB Nation says such a day would be “the most insane day of the NFL offseason in human history,” and that it would basically “make the sports world explode.” In a good way.
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— John M. Becker (@freedom2marry) April 5, 2013