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Hines Ward: I don't think NFL is ready for a gay player

NBA center Jason Collins' announcement Monday that he's gay was a major moment in the history of American professional sports. NFL players mostly were supportive of the move publicly, with an emphasis on "mostly."

That doesn't mean it will be easy for a homosexual NFL player to reveal his sexual orientation. Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward recently said he's uncertain whether the scene is set for the NFL's first openly gay player.

"I don't think football is ready, there's too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much," Ward said Tuesday on Erik Kuselias' NBC Sports Radio show, via ProFootballTalk.com. "Hopefully, one guy comes out of the closet and (will) be comfortable with himself. I don't have anything against a gay football player or a gay person period, so if he does, he has support from me. I want people to live their lives for who they are and don't have to hide behind closed doors to do that."

I'm interested to see if Collins' announcement will inspire similar progress in baseball, football and hockey. The drumbeat for a player coming out in the NFL was loud this offseason, even before Collins' disclosure. Ward might not think football is ready, but the day probably is coming sooner than he thinks. Ready or not, progress only can be a good thing.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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