CBS Sports is reporting that an active NFL player is contemplating coming out this off-season and OutSports Jim Buzinski says the report could be credible. There have been many rumors before, but there is something about this one that seems different.
It feels like the stars are aligning -- Browns linebacker Scott Fujita penned a beautiful argument for LGBT equality in the New York Times this weekend; Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, Vikings punter Chris Kluwe and Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor are going above and beyond to establish the locker room as a safe place for a gay teammate; Domonique Foxworth, president of the NFL Players Association, says it is time for an active gay player and a recent ESPN poll overwhelmingly shows that people expect a player to come out within the next five years.
The sport and the personnel appear to be ready, but according to the report, the player isn't concerned about his teammates' reaction, "the only thing preventing him from coming out" is his fear of the reaction from fans.
As a gay sports fan, I have a simple message for any athlete who is ready to come out: We got you.
I hope you are listening, because the LGBT sports-loving community has been waiting for this for a long time and we are ready to battle for you.
Yes, coming out will be difficult and you will encounter some negativity. I understand where you are coming from -- people will say stupid things to you and you will probably want to stay away from the vile depths of Twitter for a while, but you will not be alone. There will be an army behind you ready to counteract the haters. You focus on doing well on the field and we will focus on dealing with the peripheral issues.
We have been preparing for this moment and we have proven that we are a community that is not to be messed with. Within 24-hours of Chris Culliver's anti-gay rant, the LGBT rapid response machine prompted an apology from him, affirming comments from the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh and Culliver was put in touch with the Trevor Project to start making amends.
We are also prepared to support you financially. We are ready to make sure your jersey sells out and we will support companies that support you. In Mark Cuban's recent cameo on Necessary Roughness, he said a gay NFL player would be a "marketing gold mine" -- we will work to make sure this is true.
Also, we are not alone. Straight allies have been the instrumental factor in the accelerated journey toward equality and your straight fans are ready to support you as well. Over 58 percent of voters now support full marriage equality -- that is a lot of supportive people who are also ready for an openly gay athlete.
All that we ask in return is that you understand and respect the responsibility that comes along with being the first. We need this to go well -- we need you to give your best effort on the field and we need you to be a model citizen off the field.
We know that is a lot to ask and a lot of pressure for you, but we will be there behind you every step of the way.
Your army is ready to do battle for you, just make the announcement and we will proudly stand in your corner.
p.s. As a lifelong Broncos fan, I really hope you aren't a Raider, but even if you are, I will still support you -- that is how huge your coming out would be.