It’s been a week since University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam came out as gay in an ESPN interview, and the debate over whether the NFL is ready for an openly gay player carries on, with seemingly everyone around the game offering an opinion. If a recent ESPN poll is any indication, the league is more open to the idea than some might guess.
In the anonymous survey, conducted by ESPN.com’s NFL Nation and ESPN the Magazine, 44 of 51 active NFL players asked said a teammate’s sexual orientation didn’t matter to them. 39 of 51 said that they would be comfortable showering around a gay teammate.
"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,” said one receiver, described in the article as a starter. “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."
Indeed, the ESPN survey reflects that. 32 of the 51 players involved said they heard a teammate or a coach use a homophobic slur last season.
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