ESPN Poll: 86 Percent Of NFL Players Are Okay With Having Gay Teammates
A new survey from ESPN shows that if anyone has issues with openly gay players in the NFL, it won't be on the field, it'll be in the front offices.
Sparked by shoe-in NFL prospect Michael Sam's coming out, ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com's NFL Nation surveyed 51 current pro football players (almost an entire team's worth) on four true or false questions.
Although the survey showed that most players aren't concerned with another's sexual orientation, it also made clear the concerns that players would have with learning how to relate to an openly gay teammate.
Forty-four players said a teammate's sexual orientation didn't matter to them, and 39 said they would be comfortable showering around a gay teammate. But 32 players said they had teammates or coaches who used homophobic slurs last season, and when asked whether an openly gay player would be comfortable in a NFL locker room, just 25 players said yes; 21 said no, while five declined to answer.
One concern for players appeared to be learning how they could relate to a teammate they knew was gay and whether they would need to behave any differently around him.
According to one starting receiver, "Whoever takes [Sam in the draft] should have an open talk at the beginning of camp, where everybody can ask what he's comfortable with, what offends him, what boundaries there should be. When it comes to race, people already know the boundaries, to a certain extent. But I don't think football players are overly familiar with what can and can't be said around a gay person."