Atlanta Falcons prospect, Eli Apple, faced an awkward question at this year’s National Football League (NFL) Scouting Combine. Apple, who was the cornerback for the Ohio State University (OSU) football team, was asked by a member of Atlanta’s coaching staff if “he liked men.” The NFL Combine took place from Feb. 23 through Feb. 29, 2016, at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. The NFL is currently investigating this report as it may have violated an NFL policy regarding discrimination factors. The Falcons apologized for this inappropriate question though other players may now be questioning the franchise’s overall integrity.
According to CNN, Apple was interviewed by a Comcast SportsNet reporter and was asked what was “the weirdest question” he was asked during the event. Apple responded that the first question a Falcons assistant coach asked him was, “So do you like men?” After stating that he did not, the coach then replied, “If you’re going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that’s how it is around here” and that he would have to adjust to that environment.
According to the NFL, the act of asking a player about their sexual orientation is prohibited. A coach or scout can be punished for homophobic taunting, making derogatory insults, and asking inappropriate questions. While the coach did violate this policy by asking an inappropriate question, the policy only pertains to NFL representatives that confront current NFL players. The combine is a gathering of the league’s representatives and college football players, therefore, raising questions whether or not the Atlanta coach should be punished since Apple is not yet an official NFL player.
Dan Quinn, Atlanta’s head coach, apologized for this question on behalf of his coaching staff in a press conference on March 4. According to NBC Sports, Quinn emphasized that the question was unprofessional and inappropriate.
Apple, who is projected to be drafted in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft, still showcased his NFL eligibility through his athleticism. The Atlanta Falcons prospect did now allow the awkward question to distract his performance at the NFL Combine. He recorded a time of 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash and totaled 13 reps for the bench press.
The NFL Scouting Combine is an annual event where those college football players who have declared themselves to enter the NFL Draft are able to showcase their talents in front of various NFL coaches, general managers, and scouting representatives. College football players are only able to attend the event if they are invited. These players are evaluated on their physical abilities. Based on these performance observations, NFL coaches and managers are able to compare the players’ compatibilities to their teams and how they could be a benefit for the upcoming season. Other factors that are evaluated include speed, strength, size, and how they performed and contributed to their college football team. A player’s individual performance at the combine not only determines their potential salary but also overall places them in the order for the NFL Draft. To some players, the order in which they are drafted is just as important as which team recruits them. This year, the NFL Draft will be held from April 28 through April 30, 2016, at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Ill.
Opinion by Tricia Manalansan
Edited by Leigh Haugh
CNN: Eli Apple: Atlanta Falcons asked me if I like men
NBC Sports: Falcons apologize for inappropriate Combine interview question
NFL: Eli Apple Draft Profile
Sports Illustrated: Legal issues raised by Falcons asking prospect if he likes me
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