By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com March 01 2013 3:16 PM ET
The National Football League is going to investigate allegations that teams queried potential draft picks about their sexual orientation during the recent NFL Scouting Combine, where owners and coaches check out the crop of college players.
“[Teams] ask you like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ ‘Are you married?’ ‘Do you like girls?’” University of Colorado tight end Nick Kasa told ESPN Radio Tuesday, the day after the event closed. “Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether.”
The event was also marked by speculation that Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o might be gay. Suspicions arose after it was revealed that a woman with whom Te’o had a long-distance relationship via phone and social media actually did not exist and was an elaborate hoax concocted by a male acquaintance of the player. The question of Te’o’s sexual orientation is “the elephant in the room,” sports commentator Mike Florio said this week.
The NFL “will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the Scouting Combine,” league spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email statement to several media outlets. “Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.”
Aiello also said, “Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws. It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process.”
Thursday, Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell said he was asked questions similar to those put to Kasa, but he was not offended. “I think they do that just to see how you react and just to see how you answer to it,” he told Web site MLive. “It’s really to try to test you and see where you’re at mentally, and you’ve got to make sure you handle all those things in the right way so certain teams will take a chance on you and get you.”
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbedejo, a supporter of LGBT rights, this week told MSNBC host Ed Schultz he’d advise gay players to stay in the closet for now, because of “the bigotry that still exists,” but he thinks in the next year or two “we’re gonna see our Jackie Robinson, our pioneer for gay rights and equality, and we’re gonna be there to support that player.” Watch below.
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Another ally, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, Friday said NFL officials should definitely investigate the allegations of inappropriate questioning of players. “They need to make it clear this is not a question that should be asked,” Kluwe he said in an interview with Dan Patrick on his NBC Sports Channel show, also addressing a brief that he and Ayanbedejo filed in a Supreme Court case on marriage equality. Watch video below.