When I wrote earlier this week that, for NFL teams in Indianapolis, the elephant in the room when interviewing linebacker Manti Te’o’s was his sexuality, some thought that I was speculating on his sexuality or doing anything other than passing along the information I was given: Teams want to know if Te’o is gay.
Right or wrong (i.e., wrong), they want to know.
Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that two executives told Breer it’s the one question they’d ask Te’o, if they could.
But they can’t. Not to Te’o. It’s one thing to jokingly (but still inappropriately) ask Colorado tight end Nick Kasa if he “likes girls.” It’s quite another to ask Te’o that question, or anything similar to it.
Though the speculation about his sexual orientation initially arose via clumsy logic that having a pretend girlfriend in California gave him an excuse for not chasing real women in Indiana, the fact that the pretend girlfriend actually was a man who later told Dr. Phil that he was in love with Te’o created another layer of confusion in an inherently confusion situation.
Breer later explained, via Twitter, that the execs said they would ask the question “because it’s relevant to how they’d fit in” and also because “it’d be a HUGE story, so you’d inherit that” by drafting the player.
But here’s the thing. The executives assume Te’o would admit to being gay, if he is. He already has provided the “faarrrrr from it” response to Katie Couric on national TV. Why would he reverse course in a job interview?
Lest we haven’t previously been clear on this point, the fact that teams are curious is wrong. The fact that they believe they have a plausible basis for wanting to know speaks to a deeper level of dysfunction that is tolerated in a locker room but nowhere else in American society.