Top NFL prospect Eli Apple, a former Ohio State cornerback, says a coach for the Atlanta Falcons asked whether he’s gay.
"I've been asked a lot of weird questions,” he told Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. “I don't know if I could say on TV.”
Then he recounted an experience from the recent NFL Combine — when potential players are interviewed and tryout — that has the Falcons apologizing and the NFL promising to investigate.
"The Falcons coach, one of the coaches, was like, 'So do you like men?' It was like the first thing he asked me,” remembers Apple. “It was weird. I was just like, 'no.' He was like, 'if you're going to come to Atlanta, sometimes that's how it is around here, you're going to have to get used to it.' I guess he was joking but they just ask most of these questions to see how you're going to react."
The team sent Comcast SportsNet a statement by head coach Dan Quinn, who said he’s “really disappointed” by the question.
“I have spoken to the coach that interviewed Eli Apple and explained to him how inappropriate and unprofessional this was,” said Quinn. “I have reiterated this to the entire coaching staff and I want to apologize to Eli for this even coming up. This is not what the Atlanta Falcons are about and it is not how we are going to conduct ourselves.”
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Georgia are considering what activists call a "license to discriminate" law, which would let business owners and others refuse service or refuse to hire LGBT people if they say it violates their religious beliefs.
The only out gay man to ever be drafted — Michael Sam — reacted with confusion to news of the question. “Why?” he asked on Twitter.
— Michael Sam (@MichaelSamNFL) March 4, 2016
Although Sam made history by being drafted, he never made it to a regular season game. During the combine, Sam faced media speculation about the logistics of showering with teammates and worry over whether any team would take a gay player.