(USA Today Sports Images)
The topic of whether a gay player would be accepted in a NFL locker room is probably overblown. Players like teammates who can help them win. The rest is trivial.
This is shown by the 1993 Houston Oilers. The Houston Chronicle ran a tremendous oral history on that wild season and team (it's excellent, check it out, as was the NFL Network's "A Football Life" episode on the '93 Oilers), and in it there's a revelation that the Oilers had at least two gay players.
And nobody thought it was a big deal. Here are a couple of quotes from the Chronicle's story:
"Everybody knew certain guys (were gay). … Everybody speculated and people used to see these two guys come in by themselves," safety Bubba McDowell said. "They’d leave at lunchtime and then come back.”
"Listen, those (gay) guys that we’re talking about were unbelievable teammates," linebacker Lamar Lathon said. "And if you wanted to go to war with someone, you would get those guys first. Because I have never seen tougher guys than those guys. And everybody in the locker room, the consensus knew or had an idea that things were not exactly right. But guess what? When they strapped the pads on and got on the field, man, we were going to war with these guys because they were unbelievable. I mean, practice-wise, conditioning-wise, always at the top of their game, and people respect that.”
To think that the 1993 Oilers are the only NFL team that had a gay player or two is naive. It has happened before, and it's a good bet that players on other teams knew about it, as the 1993 Oilers did. No active NFL player has come out as gay (the gay players on the '93 Oilers weren't identified), but maybe that's not as much about the locker room as we think. The outside attention from media and fans would be overwhelming.
But maybe it wouldn't be all that big of a deal to the players on his team. It wasn't in Houston 20 years ago.
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