It’s unbelievable that it’s 2018, and we still have to read troubling headlines about NFL personnel asking athletes about whether or not they’re gay. It happened this year at the combine to LSU running back Derrius Guice, who could be one of the first players drafted at his position this year.
If it were to happen in almost any other workplace in the country, it could lead to accusations about discrimination and even potential lawsuits. And even though we’ve seen athletes like Robbie Rogers and Jason Collins break down barriers, there are stigmas that unfortunately and obviously still exist.
ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez spoke about the issue on Thursday’s episode of Highly Questionable. Gutierrez can speak from personal experience as someone who came out in 2015 after he had risen through the journalistic ranks to a national platform at ESPN. And he said it’s exactly this kind of behavior that is keeping athletes in the closet and preventing them from being their true selves. (H/T @gifdsports.)
ESPNs Israel Gutierrez powerful response to NFL prospect being asked if he likes men
"There are kids out there having to make this decision between choosing a career in sports or being their true selves It kept me in the closet until I was 31"pic.twitter.com/JLZogXbIFR
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) March 8, 2018
The NFL can say how it’s inappropriate and “contrary to league workplace policies” but Gutierrez and Le Batard are right that PR statements aren’t enough. The same thing happened to Eli Apple when he was asked by the Falcons if he was gay. The NFL said at the time they would investigate the situation and the Falcons apologized, but did any real change come out of it if we have to deal with this again just two years later?
The NFL has to find out the person who asked the question, the team who that person represents, and take serious action this time. Until they do and actually put some teeth behind these statements, we will continue to see this kind of behavior. And the media needs to continue to call out the NFL and put a spotlight on how far the league has to go to address these kinds of systemic issues.