In his regular column for Huffington Post, former Bronco Domonique Foxworth, the President of the NFLPA, wrote this week about the acceptance of gay players in the NFL. The item, dated February 26, the same date on which Jason Whitlock’s bumbling piece demanding action by Roger Goodell ran, offers an insider’s perspective on the looming issue. Like Whitlock, Foxworth confesses to have had epiphany.
Clearly, based simply on statistics, homosexuals do play football in the pros. There are just too many players for this not to be the case. The first player to openly admit his preference will be, in the words of Foxworth, “will have earned a permanent place in American sports and civil rights history”.
This issue is one that continues to be a hot button. The culture within NFL locker rooms is not unlike that of our society as a whole. However, because men who have reached the highest level of competition, in football in particular, have spent their entire lives being the manliest of men in every environment from middle school through college, the NFL seems like the least likely of all sports to have the first openly gay player. Still, the conversation seems to be being had more openly in the league than it has been in any other.
Foxworth is certainly the first President of any players union to discuss it. Baseball has always seemed to me to offer the most forgiving culture for a player to admit that he likes boys. That’s only a perception, though. Foxworth’s item for Huffington Post is one of many indications that it is in fact the NFL that has done the best job of rolling out the pink carpet.
For Foxworth, who speaks on behalf of all NFL players, to welcome gay players into his union is no small thing. In fact, it’s revolutionary, which makes it surprising that his Huffington Post article has not gotten more run than it has. Somehow the Whitlock piece overshadowed it. Whitlock is a blowhard with zero legitimate influence on the matter. Foxworth is careful, measured, responsible person with a direct influence on the thinking of real players.
In his piece Foxworth quoted Baltimore Ravens pass rusher Terrell Suggs as having told him: “"On this team, with so many different personalities, we just accept people for who they are and we don't really care too much about a player's sexuality." Suggs words smack of surprising sincerity.
Will the NFL be the league with the first openly gay player? It certainly never seemed likely until just recently. But, in the wake of certain insensitive comments made by players, and the reactions to those comments by more open-minded players, it seems as though the sentiment across the NFL is more progressive than it is in the NBA, the NHL and MLB. Domonique Foxworth has moved the needle even more in the direction of civil rights within the league.