In the wake of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam coming out, and the possibility of him becoming the NFL’s first openly gay player after the May draft,’s NFL Nation and ESPN The Magazine asked NFL players, on the condition of anonymity, four true-false questions about their thoughts on having a gay teammate.

Although the survey showed that most players aren’t concerned with another’s sexual orientation, it also made clear the concerns that players would have with learning how to relate to an openly gay teammate.

Forty-four players said a teammate’s sexual orientation didn’t matter to them, and 39 said they would be comfortable showering around a gay teammate. But 32 players said they had teammates or coaches who used homophobic slurs last season, and when asked whether an openly gay player would be comfortable in a NFL locker room, just 25 players said yes; 21 said no, while five declined to answer.

One concern for players appeared to be learning how they could relate to a teammate they knew was gay and whether they would need to behave any differently around him.

According to one starting receiver, “Whoever takes [Sam in the draft] should have an open talk at the beginning of camp, where everybody can ask what he’s comfortable with, what offends him, what boundaries there should be. When it comes to race, people already know the boundaries, to a certain extent. But I don’t think football players are overly familiar with what can and can’t be said around a gay person.”

Sam, who announced he is gay in a Feb. 9 interview with ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” said his Missouri teammates rallied around him last season after he revealed his sexual orientation to them.

“I’m telling you what: I wouldn’t have the strength to do this today if I didn’t know how much support they’d given me this past semester,” he said in the interview.

But one NFL starting tight end, who believes Sam will encounter some difficulties in the league, said, “There is a little more of a family environment in college. It was more like having brothers. In the NFL, you have friends, but it’s a more work-oriented environment. I hope guys can be professional and respect who he is and leave his personal life out of it.”

Sam, who was co-SEC defensive player of the year last season, is expected to be drafted between the third and fifth rounds in May. He had 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in 2013, leading the SEC in both categories.

(Photo: AP)

4 thoughts on “ESPN Poll: 86% of NFL Players Would Accept Gay Teammate

  1. keebee51 on said:

    Gays, lesbians just need to shut up and keep their personal lives to themselves. I’m tired of them crying for equal rights and telling the world they are gay/lesbian. So fucking what! That shit ain’t important. What needs to be addressed is hungry, jobless people. Now that is important!

  2. Personally, I don’t have too much of a problem with gays, per se. I just don’t appreciate those that are overly flamboyant (voice, attire, walk, etc.). We’ve all seen some out there putting “way too much on it”. That’s a major turn off to folks trying to become more accepting. This guy Sam seems like some average guy who plays football (and happens to be gay). There is nothing seemingly offensive about him. Gays like that are the ones who will best help society adjust to “their” rights. I’m rather “old school” about things, but well aware that change is on the horizon. There are gays in practically all walks of life. There are gays in pro sports (NFL, NBA, MLB, etc.). There are gay Boxers (who’d knock most of their critics on their a_ _ ). The Corporate world (business arena) is full of gays…….some at really high positions. “ALL” of the BGLO frats have gay members (though in the extreme minority). There are NO exceptions to that…….EVERY last one of the Black frats have gay members. ALLLLLLLLL of them. FACT. This guy joining the league doesn’t thereby make the NFL a “gay” organization. It just makes it “inclusive” ! just as gays who somehow end up in a Black frat doesn’t make it a “gay” frat. HARDLY. Gays are just becoming more visible in pursuits that mainstream society have long enjoyed……..openly. This guy Sam has worked hard to master his craft. Thus, should be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor (success). The time will come when there will be “gays” in all realms of life. Folks like myself have to work on greater acceptance/tolerance.

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  4. Rodney Victorious on said:

    I totally support Sam as the first openly gay NFL player, I am curious to see how his coming out will affect his drafting into the NFL. Will he be taken last or at all or will he be drafted higher (doubt it) or
    will he be drafted at the same level he would have had he not come out. Truth be told, gay men have
    played in the NFL every since it was created but Sam is just the first to be open and honest about it. I personally spent time with a player for the Houston Oilers back in the early 90’s who was gay and kept a private condo in my complex close to the football stadium. I respect his honesty !!!!

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