Vikings punter Chris Kluwe recently wrote that a gay player is not a distraction for a football team.
Ideally, he’s right. Who a player is should have no bearing on what he can do on a football field.
But before the NFL (or any other pro sport) can get to the point where this characteristic is regarded no differently than eye color, players who currently are concealing their sexual orientation need to come out and be who they are.
The problem is that coming out becomes the distraction. If only one player comes out, that player will trigger the descent of the national if not worldwide sports and non-sports media on the team, with every player, coach, and front-office official asked repeatedly for a reaction by reporters hopeful that one or more of them will say something inflammatory.
That’s why having four or more gay players come out at the same time will make it easier for each of them. And that’s also why the best outcome for each gay player in the NFL would be for all gay players in the NFL to coordinate an “I am Spartacus” moment.
A simultaneous self-outing would make the moment bigger than the players, and it would prevent any accusation that one player is making himself bigger than the team.
It also would allow (and possibly force) the NFL to regard all future gay players as not being a distraction at all, allowing people to simply be who they are.