Although he never officially came out, it was an open secret that Washington Redskins tight end Jerry Smith (87) was gay, something Vince Lombardi assured him would never be a problem so long as he remained coach.
To be, or not to be (gay), that is the question
Unless you were murdered on Sunday or are living under a rock, you have heard that professional basketball player Jason Collins has openly admitted he is gay. He is the first active professional athlete in any of the four major sports — football, basketball, baseball, or hockey — to “come out.”
Sure, Greg Louganis confessed his homosexual predilections, but he was a diver. Does diving even count as a sport?
Now please don’t panic. The gays aren’t about to ruin your favorite sport. In a private conversation I had with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he assured me that “no past or current NFL player is, or ever has been, gay.”
Then again, I just made that up.
But I digress.
Now to a sport we all care about
These days it seems like you can’t swing a dead cat in NFL circles without the names [Oladele] Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe running up the flagpole. (Trust me; the mixed metaphor isn’t lost on me.) Hell, if the media isn’t bringing up some ridiculous comment they’ve made, you’re reading some ridiculous comment they are making through the media.
This all started back in April, 2012, when a member of the Maryland general assembly, Emmett C. Burns, wrote a letter to the Baltimore Ravens, denouncing Ayanbadejo for speaking out in favor of gay marriage. His basic argument was elegant in its simplicity: shut up and play football. Kluwe Chris took offense to this bit of advice and admonished Mr. Burns in a scathing letter published by Deadspin.
Incidentally, I find it deliciously ironic that Emmet Burns is a black Democrat.
There have always been gay men in the NFL, including former Green Bay Packers defensive linemen Dave Kopay, who came out after he retired from the game.
Well, apparently, Ayanbadejo, who was recently released by the Ravens, didn’t learn his lesson. He claims there are at least four current professional players who are ready to admit publicly that they attracted to other men. (Wouldn’t it be funny if those other men were all ballet dancers?)
In other words, at least 32.86% of NFL players are gay! (Just not openly.) This is a scientific fact I just pulled out of my ass.
Roger, we have a problem
This is a problem for the NFL. The NFL is a brand. The NFL is a manly brand. Drinking lite beer is manly. Being gay is not manly. Gay players creeping into the ranks of the NFL represents nothing less than a cancer threatening to tear the fabric of this band of brothers.
Need proof? Ayanbadejo himself suggested that his outspoken ways may have played some part in his release.
Enter Kluwe, who has punted for the Minnesota Vikings since 2005 — and done an outstanding job, I might add. Kluwe is very outspoken, most notably for gay rights. He is also very active on Twitter. Now Chris believes that his social activism may cause him to get cut.
Combine this with the story about teams asking players about their sexual orientation during the 2013 NFK Scouting Combine, and it becomes apparent that the NFL has a gay problem.
Come on, man!
So let’s assume four NFL players “come out.” Does that tell us anything about how many gay men there are in the NFL?
Let’s start with the iceberg method. Approximately seven-eights (87.5%) of an iceberg lurks underwater. Assuming the four gentlemen that come out are the merely “tip of the iceberg,” we can assume there are 28 more that remain hidden from view. That would put us at 32 gay players leaguewide.
Whenever an NFL player does finally decide to come out, there will be plenty of fellow players waiting to welcome him with open arms.
But we all know there must be more than that.
Let’s try a simple mathematical ratio. Each team in the NFL is allowed 53 men on their active roster and an additional eight man on their practice squad. Barring special circumstances, this brings the total number of NFL players to 1,952. A fairly conservative estimate compiled by Gallup puts the gay population at 10 percent of the general population. That means the number of gay players is closer to 192.
Still, all reasonable people can agree that even this number is low. It’s just common sense: gay athletes must be disproportionately attracted to the NFL. After all, what other sport, allows a virile young man — at the pinnacle of his powers — to shower in close proximity to 53 other strapping specimens of prime manflesh?
This isn’t rocket science, people.
That brings me back to my original estimate of 32.86 percent of active players. Surely we can all grant that there are 641.4271 actively gay players in the NFL.
If you don’t believe me, just count the number of players who choose to wear pink accessories long after Breast Cancer Awareness Month has come and gone.
No need to hide
I believe it would be weak and cowardly for me to drop this in your lap and not share my own opinion, so here it is:
I couldn’t care less. I can’t believe that we are having this conversation is 2013. The subject raises plenty of questions:
- Is it okay to be gay?
- Is it okay to be gay and share a locker room with straight men?
- Will this affect team chemistry?
- Will openly gay players affect attendance?
The truth is, I don’t care.
Just play ball. If you miss a tackle or drop a pass, I won’t be mad that you’re gay. I will be pissed that you couldn’t bring your man down or get your hands on the ball.