LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Like a lot of struggling football teams, the Falcons sometimes have a blocking problem. And a tackling problem. They have problems throwing the ball, catching the ball and sometimes even kicking the ball.
But in their search for players to solve all of these problems, no coach, scout or member of the organization ever should feel compelled to ask the question: “So. Are you gay?” Because, really, I don’t care if my left tackle or middle linebacker or strong safety sleeps with stuffed animals, Gumby and an 8-by-10 of the Easter Bunny.
How about this question: “Can you play football?” Because that’s one question the Falcons don’t seem to be asking enough.
When Falcons coach Dan Quinn issued a statement of apology Friday after learning one of his assistants asked Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple if “he liked men,” an obvious query into his sexual orientation, it may have been only the tip of the iceberg. Our D. Orlando Ledbetter is now reporting that line of questioning might have involved more than just one draft prospect at the recent NFL scouting combine.
“A few players told me the Falcons were asking gender (sic) questions,” the person told Ledbetter. “After (Michael) Sam and the Jonathan Martin situation, teams want to be careful.”
This is what I don’t understand. The only “Michael Sam situation” is that it turned out the former Missouri defensive end wasn’t good enough to play in the NFL. Also, Martin never has said he was gay, he was bullied by then Miami teammate Richie Incognito, fueled by Incognito’s suspicions (or idiot-tendencies) that he was gay.
I understand the suggestion that a player’s sexual orientation, if he’s open about it, can be a potential problem in the locker room for some neanderthals. But if any general manager, coach or scout truly believes there aren’t homosexual players on NFL rosters now, they’re deluded. If they really don’t want a gay player on the roster, then don’t draft somebody they suspect might be homosexual. And don’t ask them, even jokingly, “Do you like men?” because somebody trying to keep it a secret isn’t going to tell you anyway.
Also, heterosexual and homosexual players generally have one thing in common: It’s going to really upset them that you asked such a stupid question and they’re probably going to tell the media or their agent or both. Also, it’s against the law and NFL policy.
Question: Does the knucklehead Falcons’ coach — or coaches — really believe that anything like that could be asked in 2016 and have it not get out? Because if that’s true, I have to question his intelligence, which I value much more than his sexual orientation.
The Falcons aren’t commenting on the latest allegation. The NFL will investigate. I would be surprised if the Falcons don’t at least get hit with a steep fine for the Apple admission alone.
If it’s true that the Falcons’ line of questioning at the combine in Indianapolis was more widespread than believed, somebody may lose a job. Somebody should lose their job. The only party more concerned about image and perceptions than the NFL is Falcons owner Arthur Blank.
The Falcons went into this offseason looking to fix problems. Instead, they’ve only added to them.
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