There’s probably a homosexual player on the down-low in every locker room in the NFL. However, none have come out while they were still active. NFL locker rooms have long been considered one of the last fronts in the battle against homophobia, but it appears the tide has shifted.
Cleveland Browns linebacker, Scott Fujita joined the chorus of players who believe a gay NFL player would be accepted in a locker room. However, Fujita believes the outside world is where he’d face the most backlash.
"I honestly think the players of the NFL have been ready for an openly gay player for quite some time now," said Fujita, a free agent linebacker who has played for the Chiefs, Cowboys, Saints and Browns. "Trust me, the coming out of a player would create much bigger waves outside the locker room than inside. The way I've seen the conversation around LGBT issues evolve, especially in the past few years, has been encouraging. Guys are more accepting than they used to be. Even those who raise personal objections to homosexuality, some of whom are good friends of mine, would still be able to coexist and accept a gay teammate."
Privately, there may be players who share the sentiment of players like 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver, who vehemently stated his opposition to any player who comes out during their career or even in the decade afterward, despite playing in a city recognized as the center of the gay rights movement. However, most players today are too conscious of the sociopolitical climate and their images to consider gaybashing. The first player to come out will have to be a unique individual who can thrive in the face of controversy and vitriolic NFL fans.
Any fan that tries to humiliate an NFL player because of his sexuality is a sucker. It shouldn’t matter, but when it happens, Bible-thumpers and homophobes will make it an issue. It would me more interesting to observe the reactions of fans if it’s a player who's an established star. If he's African-American, it will be a test of the black community, which came out in strong opposition to gay marriage on the Bible Belt and backed California's anti-gay marriage Prop 8 in huge numbers four years ago. However, based on the outspoken comments by players around the league like Fujita, Chris Kluwe, and Brendon Ayanbadejo, he’ll just be another player within the NFL trenches.