BY LORI RAUDIO
The NFL Combine typically brings the excitement of scouting new players entering the draft. This year, however, multiple players who participated in the combine came forward with allegations that teams asked them questions about their sexual orientation. The stories quickly captured media attention and have led to an NFL investigation.
After the Manti Te’o scandal involving his fake girlfriend, he received a majority of the media’s attention at the NFL combine. It was widely reported teams wanted to know if he was gay, and it’s believed his scandal will affect his draft position. It is unknown if Te’o’s case is the cause, but reportedly teams have been asking players questions such as “do you like girls?” and “do you have a girlfriend?”
Colorado tight-end Nick Kasa, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, and Michigan State running back Le’veon Bell all came forward with similar stories about being asked questions about their relationship status and sexual orientation.
Multiple sport analysts have weighed in saying, if true, these NFL teams went too far. They also may have violated federal employment laws.
On Sportscenter, analyst and former NFL coach Herm Edwards said teams “absolutely crossed a line.” He felt teams who asked these questions should be fined or lose their draft picks. ESPN Senior Writer John Clayton agreed lines were crossed. He said if Kasa and the others reveal what teams asked these questions, there could be penalties. Regardless, he expects NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell to issue a mandate saying teams need to comply with federal laws.
The NFL will be investigating the issue, and it will be interesting to see if punishments are handed out or what new procedures will be put into place.
As Edwards put it, it brings up the question: is the NFL ready for an openly gay player? Edwards thinks it is, but given their questions, it seems NFL teams are not. It’s bound to happen, and most likely sooner rather than later. Given this situation, the NFL still has a way to go before it embraces an openly gay player.