Bruce Arians believes a gay NFL player would have no problem getting along with fellow players in the locker room.
The fans, though, are a different story.
The Arizona Cardinals head coach told FoxSports.com on Wednesday that the league’s first openly gay player could fave a difficult time with fans.
“I don’t think the locker room would have any problem with it,” Arians said. “The problem would be with the fans. I think especially opposing fans. Some of the things that are said are over the top and out of control that I can imagine what some fans would say to an openly gay player.”
The situation could be coming up sooner rather than later. Though there has never been an openly gay active NFL player (a handful have come out after retirement), reports this winter said a player was very close to publicly coming out. That was followed by another report that a handful of gay NFL players were planning on coming out at the same time.
The league and LGBT advocates have been working to ensure that a gay player would be welcomed. The NFL recently met with LGBT advocacy groups to develop policies toward acceptance, and several high-profile players have offered words of support and acceptance for a what would be the first openly gay player.
“Our league and team security people would be ready to monitor any kind of public reaction that might not be appropriate, including scrubbing social media,” Aiello said. “We would assist the player in dealing with any adverse public reaction of any type, if there is any. Hopefully there wouldn’t be and it would be a non-issue, which it should be.”
To address these issues and possibly pave the way for a gay NFL player or players, the NFL Rookie Symposium this year will include presentations on the topic of sexual orientation.