Despite the hot water Chris Culliver found himself in after expressing his homophobic thoughts before the Super Bowl and in the wake of several NFL teams asking prospective players about their sexuality, the NFL may be playing football with the first openly gay player in the league, according to a report from CBSSports.com.
Scott Fujita is leading the charge towards acceptance in the NFL and has gone as far as to a brief supporting gay marriage, a case the US Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday.
The most interesting aspect of Mike Freeman's reporting was who the player in question was most afraid of. From the outside looking in, it would seem the lockerroom isn't ready for a gay player yet, but the players tell a different story.
"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."
The conversation has evolved outside the lockerroom as well. A recent poll shows close to 60 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalizing gay marriage -- an unthinkable propostion just a few years ago when President George W. Bush said, "Marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious, and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society."
Former New Mexico Gov. Jim McGreevey knows how far society has come. In 2004, he resigned as Governor and went through a bitter divorce after an affair with a younger man. He came out on public TV and made his story known, which will be detailed in an HBO documentary this Thursday in Fall To Grace.
In a recent segment on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, McGreevey discusses the film and says he thinks the combination of HIV hitting the gay community as well as pop culture put the impetus on homosexuals to accept themselves for who they are.
Now, it finally seems the rest of the population is catching up. Even in the NFL.