The Wait for an Active Gay NFL Player

Former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has backtracked from his claim that up to four gay NFL players were considering coming out on the same day.

That has allowed for some interesting Monday morning quarterbacking (sorry, had to say it!). Yahoo! sports writer Jason Cole has written an excellent article on this topic.

“Media must be delicate in handling of active NFL gay player coming out publicly” is the title of his article:

footballFormer Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, who along with Ayanbadejo supports marriage equality and gay causes, got a phone call from one news outlet. The reporter wanted to know Fujita’s opinion about what Ayanbadejo was saying. The conversation quickly turned to the reporter’s real objective.

Do you know who those four players could be?

“I figured out what they were really wanting pretty quickly,” Fujita said with equal amounts of sarcasm and disappointment.

This is where the chase gets dangerous. Even though Ayanbadejo later backed off his claim, it was only after reporters who work with Bob Costas, CNN, ESPN and numerous other outlets had chased the tidbit. [Cyd] Zeigler [of Outsports.com] eventually weighed in on the subject, casting doubt that there were ever four NFL players planning to come out and throwing a wet blanket on CBSSports.com writer Mike Freeman’s assertion that an NFL player is “close” to coming out.

“Just wait for the headline that someone has come out; anything else is just a guess,” said Zeigler, who admitted Friday that he’s only reasonably sure of two gay NFL players.

Worse, Zeigler said, there is almost a witch-hunt element to what is going on. It’s not necessarily intentional, but it’s there nonetheless.

“I just hope that it doesn’t get to the point that somebody feels pressured to come out because they feel that this news organization is about to out them,” said Zeigler, who is 39 and came out when he was 23. “You don’t want people to feel pressured into this.”

It’s anyone’s guess when the media will finally have to deal with this for real, but I do wonder what role, if any, LGBT journalists and LGBT media will play.

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