Much discussion has been made in recent months about the relationship between homosexuality and professional sports. Jason Collins recently came out as the first person to openly come out as homosexual while on a roster of a major American sports franchise. Robbie Rogers of the MLS followed suit and returned to the game after coming out last year. The NFL has had a controversial reputation for how it would handle an openly LGBT individual on a roster, but has taken a step forward with its players association, beginning to sell LGBT merchandise.
June is gay pride month, and the NFL is for the first time celebrating this by selling LGBT merchandise through the player’s association. Shirts are available for purchase on the league’s website for $24.99.
Many current and former players have jumped on board with the project. Terrell Suggs, Brendan Aynabadejo, Donte Stallworth and Chris Kluwe round out the current players who have put their name on t-shirts for the event. Many former players have joined on board, such as Conner Barwin, Domonique Foxworth, Scott Fujita, Chris Gocong, Donté Stallworth and Eric Winston.
A step in the right direction after a draft that saw many players come forward and say they wouldn’t support a gay teammate joining them on a roster.
As recently as last year, several players spoke out against the possibility of having a gay teammate. 49ers Chris Culliver told Yahoo! Sports that “I don’t do the gay guys man, I don’t do that. No, we don’t got no gay people on the team, they gotta get up out of here if they do. Can’t be with that sweet stuff. Nah…can’t be…in the locker room man. Nah.”
So not everyone playing in the NFL may not be on board with selling LGBT merchandise in collaboration with the player’s association. That hasn’t stopped the league from reaching out to this community and showing its support for their cause.
Shirts available for purchase feature a rainbow colored NFLPA logo, as well as the hashtag #PRIDE on the front. The back has the jersey number and last name of the player selected, also in the rainbow design font. Players available all volunteers to put their name on the jerseys to support the cause.
Teaming with the NFL Player’s Association, the league has made a step in the right direction by supporting the LGBT community and celebrating gay pride month by selling merchandise supporting the cause. Perhaps this stepping stone will lead to a player coming out as homosexual while on a roster.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express
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