Last summer, NBC analyst and former Indianapolis Colts coach Dungy said he would not have drafted Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL draftee.
“Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play,” Dungy told the Tampa Tribune, “but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”
That comment still makes Collins feel a certain way. The former Nets center spoke to USA TODAY Sports for a story about a new international study on homophobia in sports.
“If you were to ask Tony Dungy if he feels like homophobia is in his level of thinking or if he’s homophobic, he’d say no,” Collins said. “Well, if you were to ask Donald Sterling if he sees how his comments are racist, he said no, too. Some people don’t recognize their own racism, homophobia. His awareness, and people like him, are the problem.”
Sam came out as gay prior to the 2014 NFL draft while Collins came out in May 2013 and became the first openly gay man to play in the NBA after signing with Brooklyn.
Collins said when he joined the Brooklyn Nets and played in the NBA for the first time since coming out “there was this myth that I’d be a distraction,” but that “after two weeks, it was back to business as usual. There are only so many times you can write the story about the gay teammate.”
According to the survey by Out on the Fields, 84 percent of gay men and 82 percent of gay women heard homophobic language in the locker room. Nearly 9,500 people — 26 percent of them straight — were questioned in the six-country poll.
When Jason was in the closet, and in NBA locker rooms, he often heard the sort of gay slurs that would be a firing offense at most companies.
“I remember, each time I heard it, thinking to myself, ‘If I were to come out, this person would reject me,’ ” Collins tells USA TODAY Sports, “because they were using it so freely and casually.”
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