When NBA player Jason Collins announced two weeks ago that he was gay, many NFL players offered their public support. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expects the same reaction if an NFL player similarly goes public with his sexuality.
"I have such great respect for our players," Goodell told NFL.com's Steve Wyche in a sitdown interview Thursday. "I don't think it will just be tolerated, I think it will be accepted. These are individuals who play in our league. We're all different in some fashion, and we're accepting of our differences.
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"That's what this is all about. To me, if it happens in the league, that's a personal choice that someone would decide to do. But I know their teammates and teams, and I think the fans will all respond the right way."
This has been the offseason of gay rights discussion in sports. Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe have spoken passionately about marriage equality. Reports surfaced that an NFL player or players could come out of the closet. The NFL also reminded teams about the league's policy on sexual orientation and harassment after reports that teams asked about players' sexuality during NFL Scouting Combine interviews.
We also believe the vast majority of people associated with the NFL would accept any gay player. With Collins leading the way, it feels like it's only a matter of time before an NFL player also comes out. Perhaps some day in the future, a player's sexuality won't even be a big story anymore.