Is it safe for a gay NFL player to come out? Probably not

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a Chico boy who made it big, took a break from his preparation for Sunday’s playoff game against the 49ers to volunteer the information that he isn’t gay.

“I’m just going to say I’m not gay,” Rodgers announced on his weekly radio show Tuesday. “I really, really like women.”

Nobody asked him the question, but Rodgers apparently felt the need to make a statement because at least two Web sites are carrying reports that he has a “relationship” with his personal assistant.

If Rodgers ever says he’s gay (I don’t know and don’t care), he wouldn’t be the first homosexual to play in the National Football League, but he would be the first to say so while still an active player.

There was a report in September that a current player was going to “come out,” but either the report was bogus or he changed his mind. Wade Davis, a former cornerback, has admitted he’s gay, as has Kwame Harris, a former tackle for the 49ers and Raiders.

Several players and some league officials have come out in support of gay players, and others–like 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver at last year’s Super Bowl–have been disciplined for making anti-homosexual statements.

So is it safe today for a player to announce he’s gay? Maybe, if he’s a star player. But given the macho culture of football and the violent nature of the game, a homosexual who’s just a journeyman would be a lot safer if he keeps it to himself.

Staying in the closet may not be the enlightened thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do for now.

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