In a week that has seen the NFL schedule released, NFL Draft buzz heating up and some exciting NHL playoff games, it’s easy for some stories to get lost in the shuffle.
This is one of those stories. According to an article posted on CSNPhilly.com, former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent said during his 15-year NFL career he played alongside six gay teammates and, in his opinion, there were no problems in the locker room or on the field.
Vincent is currently the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations and was being interviewed on Thursday. He was asked about the University of Missouri’s Michael Sam, co-defensive player of the year in the SEC, who announced several weeks ago that he is gay. Sam is expected to be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft.
It is certainly an interesting story. In the wake of Sam’s coming out, some questioned whether having an openly gay teammate would bring problems to the locker room. Vincent reportedly said that hasn’t been the case before and as long as players address things properly in public, it won’t be the case now.
“Yes, it worked,” Vincent said in the article. “We won many football games. They were players. We didn’t see them as anything different. We were in the locker room together, we traveled together, they were roommates on the road together. We just looked at them as players. We didn’t treat them any different and I don’t think the players now look at them any differently.”
Some question why Sam’s sexual orientation is even a story. Vincent’s version of what really happens in NFL locker rooms suggests it might not be for much longer. The biggest reason this makes headlines is that Sam is the highest-profile athlete in the highest-profile sport to come out as a homosexual. It’s a barrier that had yet to be broken, and just like other barriers before it once toppled and acceptance is proven, it will fade into the background.
Vincent’s insights give a glimpse of what that background will be like for gay athletes and their teammates, and from all indications it looks like the NFL is much more progressive than many people give it credit for.