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Why Do NFL Teams Keep Asking Prospects If They're Gay?


Two players blow the whistle on the NFL's homphobia.

Two former NFL prospects have come forward with accusations that scouts asked them if they were gay. Both running back Derrius Guice and offensive lineman Akil Patterson allege that during the draft, representatives questioned their sexuality; for Patterson it was in 2007, for Guice it was this week.

Guice said that one NFL team asked about his sexuality, while another inquired if his mother was a prostitute. But he was warned that questions like that would come up.

"It was pretty crazy," said Guice, a former Louisiana State University player, describing the incident to SiriusXM show Late Hits. "I go in one room, and a team will ask me, 'Do I like men?' just to see my reaction. I go in another room, they'll try to bring up one of my family members or something and tell me, 'Hey, I heard your mom sells herself. How do you feel about that?'"

NFL prospect Akil Patterson was asked "Are you gay?" by one of the team scouts during a spring workout in 2007. The offensive lineman said he was. Patterson told Outsportsthat the scout replied, "We've got a lot of guys in the league who are."

"A Fortune 500 company generally does not ask this question in an interview. The NFL teams should do the same," Patterson told Outsports. "It makes no sense at all and should not be a practice used to find out personal information when it comes to sex and sexual orientation."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy responded to the accusations in an email to USA Today, writing, "A question such as that is completely inappropriate and wholly contrary to league workplace policies."

"The league annually reminds clubs of these workplace policies that prohibit personnel from seeking information concerning a player's sexual orientation," McCarthy asserted.

"Find out what team did it and ban them from the combine," NFL Players Association director DeMaurice Smith responded to Guice's account. He told PFT Live, "The question is inappropriate. Questions along these lines are always inappropriate."

Two years ago, the National Football League launched an investigation into recruiters asking these kinds of questions after rookie Eli Apple was asked about his sexuality before being drafted by the New York Giants. An Atlanta Falcons assistant coach made the remark, which the NFL called "disappointing and clearly inappropriate." The coach's name has not been made public.

Patterson says the fear of not realizing his football ambitions because of his gay identity caused him mental and emotional distress. While in school, the player tried to remain closeted, but rumors around his sexuality were always on his radar. He says when he took a course on LGBT studies, a coach asked him "Why I was taking fag classes" and pressured him to drop it. During the draft, he was outed by an assistant college coach who had a professional realtionship with the scout.

Patterson did not get drafted into the NFL but went on to become a successful wrestler and an advocate for LGBT athletes; he met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in 2017 on behalf of an NFL Pride group.

"The NFL as an organization has made big strides to address many social issues, but the teams are still run by many people who fail to understand that if we want to create a better culture they need to invest in knowing what workplace policies should exist," Patterson told Outsports. "Over the last year I have had conversations with the NFL about looking into the policies that can protect front office employees from these type of questions."

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