The NFL appears more ready than ever for an openly gay player. It's possible we'll find out how ready this offseason.
CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote Monday that he was told a current gay NFL player strongly is considering coming out publicly. The plan would be for the unnamed player to do so in the next few months, then carry on with his NFL career.
Freeman based the information on several interviews with active and former NFL players, but the reporter doesn't know who the player is. If the player does come out, it would be a landmark moment in U.S. professional team sports.
The topic of homosexuality and gay rights never has been so much a part of NFL discussion. Players like Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe have spoken loudly in support of gay marriage throughout the last year. New York Giants owner Steve Tisch, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and players like Scott Fujita, Scott Shanle, D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Winston are among those who supported a brief filed to the U.S. Supreme Court related to Proposition 8 in California. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments this week on the proposition that banned same-sex marriage in the state.
The NFL might be more ready than ever for a gay player, but that's still not saying much. The NFL is progressive in so many ways, and yet it's far behind the times on openly gay players. That's true for all major pro sports.
Fujita believes NFL players are ready.
"I honestly think the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now," Fujita told Freeman. "Trust me, the coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside."
A player coming out certainly would create a lot of attention. It would take a lot of courage, and the act would make it easier for the men who come out publicly after. Frankly, the moment feels inevitable and almost overdue. Progress waits for no one.