A survey of anonymous players in the National Football League found an overwhelming majority would have no problem with a gay teammate.
Following NFL Draft prospect Michael Sam’s coming out, ESPN polled 51 unnamed players to get their thoughts on the prospect of playing with an openly gay teammate.
While most of respondents said that a player’s sexual orientation doesn’t matter to them, a fairly large percentage indicated that homophobic attitudes are still prevalent in NFL locker rooms — creating a potentially uncomfortable environment for an openly gay player.
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 if an openly gay player would be comfortable in a NFL locker room, just 25 players said yes; 21 said no, while another five declined to answer.
Several anonymous league executives told Sports Illustrated earlier this month that Sam’s announcement probably hurt his stock in this year’s draft, but a number of current and former players applauded the Missouri All-American.