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Gronkowski reluctantly gives interview on gay players in pro sports

The 2012 ESPY Awards - Arrivals Getty Images

Before the Summer of Gronk went dark, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had an opportunity to be interviewed by Outsports.com.  And he initially declined.

At the red carpet at the ESPYs, Cyd Zeigler Jr. asked Gronkowski to answer a few questions, explaining to Gronkowski that the site is “ESPN for homos.”  Per Zeigler, Gronkowski initially declined, which made him (per Zeigler) the first pro athlete to refuse to talk about gay issues in sports.

Gronkowski explained that he feared saying the wrong thing.  Eventually, he agreed to answer two questions.

Question one:  “Have you ever played with a gay teammate?”

After pausing, Gronkowski said he didn’t know of any.

Question two:  “How would you feel if one of your teammates on the Patriots came out of the closet this season?”

“If that’s how they are, that’s how they are,” Gronkowski said.  “I mean, we’re teammates so, as long as he’s being a good teammate and being respectful and everything, that’s cool.”

It’s a shame he answered only two questions, because the obvious follow-up would have been, “What would constitute ‘being respectful and everything’?”  Which could have prompted an answer that would have shed more light on Gronkowski’s possible attitudes and biases than the superficial, politically correct “sure, I’m fine with it” response that any pro athlete is going to provide when speaking on the record.

Gronkowski, unlike many pro athletes, applied a qualification to the standard response.  And the explanation of Gronk’s qualification could have been more revealing than his photo on the cover of the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine.

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12 Responses to “Gronkowski reluctantly gives interview on gay players in pro sports”
  1. joetoronto says: Jul 17, 2012 8:11 AM

    They should ask Packers players the same question.

    Except for Aaron, of course.

  2. reasonlogic says: Jul 17, 2012 8:54 AM

    Here’s a young guy enjoying life as a 20 something yr old. He honestly explained that “he feared saying the wrong thing.” I’m sure saying “the wrong thing” could cost him in endorsement deals, fans for himself and the team, etc. Now they want it to come across as a negative. He’s a young kid. I’m sure in a year or two he’ll have it all down. It’s not such a big question to answer but the other pieces, when your young and suddenly successful, will sure make you say “I didn’t prepare for that question. I better check first.” At least he was honest about it and didn’t simply run off at the lip like too many others.

  3. spartan822 says: Jul 17, 2012 9:21 AM

    That sounds like a very reasonable qualification to the standard response.

  4. papichulo55 says: Jul 17, 2012 9:53 AM

    Its a shame that he was ambushed by that reporter, who clearly had a poliical agenda. Its a shame that this story is being perpetuated here, in this forum.

    Who cares what the sexual preferences of the Patriots are? The power of this forum should be used to keep the focus on what happened at Penn State, and promote discussions as to how to prevent it.

  5. marima07 says: Jul 17, 2012 10:00 AM

    Gronkowski admitted he was fearful of saying the wrong thing because anything other the “right thing” would be all over the national news in a heartbeat – and with the accompanying offseason over-analysis to boot.

    You’re doing exactly what he was fearful of – taking what he said and questioning it’s underlying meaning – even though it was clear there was none. It was just him using a stock phrase to be polite while avoiding controversy.

  6. thankheavenfornumberseven says: Jul 17, 2012 10:04 AM

    There’s nothing wrong with what he said. If you’re a gay man in a locker room full of naked men, it’s on you to be respectful of how uncomfortable your teammates could be. Everyone needs to be respectful, but people forget about that going both ways.

  7. prospero63 says: Jul 17, 2012 10:30 AM

    It’s a losing situation. No matter how he answers, he’ll be shredded by the media. Just look at this story. He expressed fear that he would say the wrong thing, and lo and behold, here is a press article taking him to task for saying the wrong thing.

  8. brokentreehousemusic says: Jul 17, 2012 10:32 AM

    It’s not hard to say the “right” thing in this situation, provided the reporter is honest and well-intentioned. Gronk is a product of a tight-lipped organization, which explains his reaction.

    This is a relevant issue considering the difficulty of being Out in a professional sports context, but there are surely more constructive ways for it to be discussed.

    Hold an event promoting and supporting gay athletes and invite some of the biggest names in pro sports to it to show their solidarity and support. That would speak much louder and more significantly than a bland 2-question “interview.”

  9. cuseboy24 says: Jul 17, 2012 12:33 PM

    I don’t understand why the sports press has decided its their duty to try and convince gay athletes to come out, and ridicule athletes that aren’t chearing them on. Its perfectly reasonable for someone to have reservations about being in a locker room with someone who is sexually atracted to the male gender in the same way you would be uncomfortable in that same lockerroom if a female cooworker was there changing along side you.

  10. drewsylvania says: Jul 17, 2012 1:39 PM

    More generally, the sports press has decided that it’s their duty to destroy any player they feel like destroying. It’s a despicable practice, and these media haters know it.

  11. rootintootinnootin says: Jul 17, 2012 1:46 PM

    This is the second time I’ve read that Gronk was on the cover of ESPN the Magazine on this site. I have a subscription to ESPN the Magazine and Gronk was in the body issue, but he certainly was not on the cover of the issue that I received (nor the one that is online). That honor belonged to Rhona Rousey.

  12. californiarestinpeace says: Feb 9, 2013 1:36 AM

    Gronk shoulda said ‘People can do whatever they wanna do’ and laughed at the guy. Then he can go do a $4 million dollar porn with Bibi Jones and nobody can say a damn thing.

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