Are NFL locker rooms ready to welcome gay players?

2:18 PM, May 25, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- There are gay players in the NFL. Anonymous interviews, former players who have come out and mere statistics will tell you that's an ironclad truth.

But the league has yet to see its first active, openly gay performer.

Yet according to some prominent rookies and league veterans, NFL locker rooms could be more than ready to not only accept, but embrace homosexual teammates.

Outsports conducted multiple interviews at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere events in Los Angeles recently and shed some light on the thoughts of some seemingly enlightened stars who wouldn't mind in the least if what Outsports calls "the last closet" were to open.

"The gay community is just like everybody else, but they're treated differently," former Green Bay Packers RB Ahman Green, who has a gay brother and lesbian sister, told Outsports.

"I am very open-minded. It is what it is. People are born that way. You can't control it. Just like you're white, I'm black. But a lot of people don't think my way. I wish they did, because then there wouldn't be guys who wanted to stay hidden."

But should they feel compelled to remain "hidden" in 2012?

"I just don't care about that," former Tennessee Titans RB Eddie George said. "If that's what you do, that's what you do. I don't hate you because of it or dislike you because of it. That's not my personal preference, but I respect your decision. I'm not going to like you less or not be your friend because of that."

Added former New York Giants LB Antonio Pierce: "He's one of the 53 guys. Obviously he's put in the sweat and the blood and the pain to get there. I'll never knock him. As long as we can win a football game, I don't care. As long as we're winning football games and winning championships, that's all that matters."

Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins, Trent Richardson of the Cleveland Browns and Coby Fleener of the Indianapolis Colts were among several rookies saying a teammate's sexuality isn't a concern at all.

But naturally, some environments won't be accepting. RGIII recalled the story of one of his high school teammates.

"When he came out, he stopped playing," Griffin said. "He might have stopped playing because of the negative feedback he might have gotten from being that on the football team. So, I think that's probably why he ended up quitting."

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