NFL players express growing acceptance for openly gay teammates

The culture surrounding football, and more commonly the NFL, is sometimes thought to contain an extensive amount of homophobia. And some of the pre-Super Bowl comments made by a handful of players didn't do much to dispel this belief. However, recent testimonials by current and former professional football players have proven that many people within the NFL are beginning to embrace the idea of an openly gay teammate in their locker room. Recently, Outsports.com compiled a list of 14 more NFL players who have vocally supported the possibility of having an openly gay teammate in the locker room. The story comes in response to 49ers play Chris Culliver, who issued anti-gay statements on a radio-show leading up to his playing in the Super Bowl last Sunday, and his teammates Ahmad Brooks and Isaac Sopoaga who said they didn't know that "It Gets Better" was meant to encourage LGBT young people when they participated in the project. The list is meant to showcase the many current NFL players who possess contrary viewpoints to the anti-gay sentiments released by Culliver on the radio show.

This recent story comes in conjunction with recent statements released by star NFL players who recounted their feelings about having a gay teammate. Earlier in 2012, Outsports.com interviewed Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots about how he felt about having a gay teammate and, although apprehensive at first, said, "If that’s how they are, that’s how they are. I mean, we’re teammates so, as long as he’s being a good teammate and being respectful and everything, that’s cool.” Robert Griffin III, who is the stand out rookie quarterback for the Washington Redskins, recounted a time when one of his teammates in high school came out as gay. Griffin said that his teammate stopped playing football after he came out. Even though Griffin III has gay friends and does not care if a teammate is gay he remembered the instance as a time when perceived homophobia in football may have prevented his teammate from playing the game. 

One of the most vocal supporters of gay rights within the NFL, and one of those compiled within Outsports.com's list of gay-supportive players, has been Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens. Not only did Ayanbadejo use the big stage of the Super Bowl to publicly advocate for gay rights but, in an interview with Russell Simmons, the football star discussed how the more scrutiny he got for supporting gay rights the more steadfast he stood in support for the issue. On top of this, and in the midst of his son's heart surgery, Ayanbadejo conducted an interview yesterday with Don Lemon on CNN in which he stated, ""Now that I'm a Super Bowl champion, my voice just projects that much further and hopefully it can lead to more change and more positive things for the LGBT community". These recent comments by Ajanbadejo and other NFL players show that professional football is quickly becoming a home to some of the most vocal advocates for LGBT rights.

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