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Falcons assistant apologizes to Eli Apple for combine question

An Ohio State player said Friday he was asked about his sexuality by an Atlanta Falcons coach during the NFL Scouting Combine last week, and the NFL is looking into the matter.

During an interview with Comcast SportsNet on Friday, Buckeyes cornerback Eli Apple said he was asked "a lot of weird questions" at the combine, including one about whether he liked men.

"The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, 'So do you like men?'" Apple said. "It was like the first thing he asked me. It was weird. I was just like, 'no.' He was like, 'if you're going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that's how it is around here, you're going to have to get used to it.' I guess he was joking but they just ask most of these questions to see how you're going to react."

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he has spoken to the coach who asked Apple the question.

"I am really disappointed in the question that was asked by one of our coaches," Quinn said in a statement released by the team. "I have spoken to the coach that interviewed Eli Apple and explained to him how inappropriate and unprofessional this was. I have reiterated this to the entire coaching staff and I want to apologize to Eli for this even coming up. This is not what the Atlanta Falcons are about and it is not how we are going to conduct ourselves."

In a statement to NFL Media, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote: "This is disappointing and clearly inappropriate as the Falcons acknowledged. We will look into it."

Apple started in 14 of 15 games as a redshirt freshman at Ohio State during its national title run in 2014. Last season, he tallied 53 tackles, 5.5 for loss, three interceptions and 10 pass breakups. He was named Second-Team All-Big Ten.

UPDATE: Marquand Manuel, a secondary coach / senior defensive assistant with the Falcons, apologized to Apple in a statement released by the team on Monday.

"I take full responsibility for the inappropriate question I asked at the combine, Manuel said. It was wrong and I apologize to Eli Apple, Mr. Blank, the entire Falcons organization, my family, and our Falcon fans for my insensitivity. I understand it was inappropriate and the offense people have taken to it. I have had an individual counseling session on social responsibility today, and was part of a staff session as well, and found it very valuable in learning from this situation. Moving forward, I will become a better man by going through all of this."

Quinn also readdressed the incident in a statement.

"I have spoken to every coach on our staff individually and collectively today in regards to what happened at the combine," Quinn said. "The inappropriate conversation occurred between one of our position coaches and the player; it was not during one of our formal 15-minute interviews. Following my discussions with the coaches, we have taken additional steps to ensure our entire staff is well educated on the appropriate questions and comments that should be made during these processes. We had a training seminar with a league-approved counselor here at our facility today with our entire coaching staff regarding social responsibility. Our organization holds itself to a very high standard and we will learn from this."

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