Last week the National Football League Players’ Association announced it would sell t-shirts with a gay pride theme. A number of players have agreed to have their names on the t-shirts. This is a positive step for the NFL, which as Situationist contributor Michael McCann wrote about earlier this year for Sports Illustrated, has seen fallout from its teams asking prospective players about their sexual orientation. Here is an excerpt of McCann’s article “Loaded Question“, which appeared on page 16 in the March 25, 2013 issue of SI.
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In a March 14 letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman inquired why, during last month’s scouting combine, several college players were allegedly asked about their sexual orientation. Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o denied reports that he had faced such queries, but Colorado tight end Nick Kasa said a team wanted to know if he “likes girls.” Kasa’s isn’t the first case of offensive predraft questioning. In 2010, Dolphins G.M. Jeff Ireland asked Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute. (Ireland later apologized.)
The NFL asserts that such questions violate existing league policies and are subject to discipline. A league spokesperson also says that the questioning of prospects was to be discussed at this week’s owners meeting.
Are the NFL and the players association doing enough to protect prospects from biased questions? Article 49 of the current CBA declares, “There will be no discrimination in any form against any player … because of … sexual orientation.” But is a draft prospect who is not yet a member of the NFLPA or of an NFL team—and may never become one—fully protected by Article 49?
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