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Hines Ward doesn’t believe football is ready for openly gay player

HinesWard22912 Getty Images

At a time when many in the media and multiple straight players seem to be almost rooting for a gay NFL player to come out of the closet, former Steelers receiver and NBC analyst Hines Ward believes that the time may not be right for it to happen.

“I don’t think football is ready, there’s too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much,” Ward told Erik Kuselias earlier today on NBC Sports Radio.

Ward remains optimistic that a player will decide otherwise.  “[H]opefully one guy comes out of the closet and [will] be comfortable with himself,” Ward said.  “I don’t have anything against a gay football player or a gay person period so if he does, he has support from me.  I want people to live their lives for who they are and don’t have to hide behind closed doors to do that.”

He’s right, but that will be hard to do if football truly isn’t ready.  Recent comments from Ward’s former teammate, Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace, suggest that football isn’t ready.

The crown jewel of the 2013 free-agency class tweeted his way into trouble on the same day the NFL unveiled a new set of guidelines regarding sexual orientation, and on the same day NBA player Jason Collins disclosed he is gay.  Wallace’s comments once again demonstrate the disconnect between the politically-correct responses that typically emerge when a player is responding to a direct question from someone other than a comedian and the unfiltered nonsense that periodically flows from the fingertips in 140-character fragments.

Regardless of the precise reasons — player intolerance, fan abuse, fear of being cut, the avoidance of a media distraction for the player and his team, or some combination of those — the decision of every gay NFL player both now and in the past to remain closeted during their playing careers tends to prove that Hines is correct.

Otherwise, a gay player would have come out by now.

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57 Responses to “Hines Ward doesn’t believe football is ready for openly gay player”
  1. Sideline Mob says: Apr 30, 2013 10:23 AM

    Can someone tell these guys that we pay to watch them catch a ball, and we’re not interested in their social opinions? Who cares who’s gay or straight – it’s football, can you make plays or not?

  2. 27xplayoffs says: Apr 30, 2013 10:30 AM

    Whether football is ready or not, it’s coming and will probaby be here within the next 12 months.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  3. morganstan100 says: Apr 30, 2013 10:32 AM

    The NFL’s dirtiest player (2009 Sports Illustrated poll) is lecturing the world on social mores? Pass.

  4. blacknole08 says: Apr 30, 2013 10:33 AM

    I don’t care to much about social issues as it relates to sports.

    Athletes are judged mostly on performance. Everything else about them the world does not need to know. It’s 2013! Be who you are and be true to yourself. In the end that’s all that matters.

  5. chucknorrisisabeast says: Apr 30, 2013 10:36 AM

    So, when everything simmers down? If a center keeps flirting with a QB? Is that sexual harassment ?

  6. nj22 says: Apr 30, 2013 10:39 AM

    All Mike Wallace’s comments suggest is that he is not ready to be around a gay player. He doesn’t speak for the league.

  7. bennyb82 says: Apr 30, 2013 10:39 AM

    Next article, Hines Ward apologizes for blah blah blah and never meant to offend anyone. The Steelers issue a statement saying that former players views do not reflect their own.

  8. daysend564 says: Apr 30, 2013 10:41 AM

    Players refusing blood tests would tend to agree with Hines statements.

  9. oldlineman says: Apr 30, 2013 10:42 AM

    Te’o, to see how people have reacted by being a goof-ball, will be a nice walk in the park compared to a player saying he’s gay.

  10. winkeroni says: Apr 30, 2013 10:48 AM

    I think you keep underestimating these guys. They are teammates. If 52 guys can be good teammates Ben Rothlisberger and Michael Vick then they can certainly handle a gay teammate.

    Maybe I’m overestimating these guys.

  11. jwm042085 says: Apr 30, 2013 10:51 AM

    The League never believed Hines Ward would smile so much either…for a guy who smiles so much around hard hitting dudes it’s funny for him to come out with this comment.

  12. 11inthebox says: Apr 30, 2013 10:54 AM

    I understand what you’re saying. But if we’re gonna get all excited to read about athletes’ DUIs, assault charges, and random mistakes, then we should also entertain their social views.

    It’s only fair.

  13. jonny42671 says: Apr 30, 2013 10:58 AM

    It’s time now for Aaron Rodgers to come out of the closet. I’m not saying this to poke fun at him. But I think just about everyone knows, well except the Packer Fans. They live in their own little fantasy world.

  14. onereasonableman says: Apr 30, 2013 11:05 AM

    Certainly a great argument against someone coming out that “there’s too many guys in the locker room and, you know, guys play around too much.”

    Wait, what???

    Get over it, get over yourselves, and let’s all move on.

  15. logicalvoicesaysneedswaybettercrazypills says: Apr 30, 2013 11:08 AM

    says the guy who won Dancing with the Stars….

  16. doomsdaydefensetx says: Apr 30, 2013 11:12 AM

    Ultimately it’s all about production. BUT I think 52 men in the locker room will find it hard to undress and shower around a gay guy. Like the guy from the NBA Jason Collins. He’s a 10year + veteran. And he barely came out? I imagine all the celtics that been through that locker room are feeling nauseous right about now.

  17. godofwine330 says: Apr 30, 2013 11:15 AM

    Hines is exactly right. Tennis players, okay. That basketball player is going to see now that he is a free agent whether the NBA is ready for a gay player. If he gets signed by another team and there is not a single player that tweets (which will then be deleted) or says anything or looks a certain way in the media then the NBA will be okay with it, but all that hinges on whether he is persued by an NBA team or not. Teams can always say they found younger, cheaper talent but thanks for your service and not sign him.

    That said, I don’t think the NFL is ready, and if it is not a star player he will have a problem when it comes to resigning. When they can say they didn’t sign or resign you for another reason it will be hard to argue.

  18. thebigtim2012 says: Apr 30, 2013 11:15 AM

    Still don’t understand how what Wallace said has any relevance to someone coming out. He said he doesn’t understand being gay. He didn’t say it was wrong he didn’t say anything derogatory he simply said he doesn’t get it. Same way a gay dude doesn’t understand straight people. What would be really cool is if you guys would stop trying to make issues out of nothing.

  19. jason8er says: Apr 30, 2013 11:21 AM

    Hines Ward just schooled the sanctimonious zeroes. The ones who spew their idiotic opinions, without ever reading the article they are commenting on.

    He said he hopes someone comes out, but that the NFL locker room just isn’t ready for that yet. So instead of you smarmy righteous idiots attacking him, why don’t you show us all how he is wrong.

  20. bobzilla1001 says: Apr 30, 2013 11:21 AM

    I’m really looking forward when the liberals get this topic out of their systems, so we can move on and talk about, you know, football.
    I don’t want to know, nor do I need to know, what someone’s sexual preference is.
    I couldn’t care less if some irrelevant basketball player is gay, just as I couldn’t care less that Joe Namath is heterosexual.
    It just doesn’t matter!!!

  21. granadafan says: Apr 30, 2013 11:23 AM

    What’s with these comments that Aaron Rodgers is gay? What in the world would make you think he’s gay? He’s dating hot women as one would expect from a young rich star QB. In college he killed it with the women.

  22. rcali says: Apr 30, 2013 11:23 AM

    Maybe this is why he retired. I mean, this site did have a picture of him dancing around shirtless in tight pants with sparkles on a tv show.

  23. elkgrovelaguna says: Apr 30, 2013 11:23 AM

    The timing will never be “right”. It just has to happen and people will deal with it. Now that Jason Collins has done it, if would be easier for someone else and during the off season is a better time. Get it out of the way and be less of a distraction than coming out in the middle of the season.

  24. kluuuuuuuuug says: Apr 30, 2013 11:34 AM

    Let’s not use Wallace as a baseline. If you’re going to base it off Twitter comments (or just media comments in general) do a bit of research, aggregate it, and come back with what you’ve learned. That would be a start. Then maybe you can assume whether most would or wouldn’t support it or are ready… referencing one doofus doesn’t do much to display the overall view of NFL players.

  25. str82dvd says: Apr 30, 2013 11:42 AM

    Whether you’re ready or not, it’s coming, and you will be destroyed if you do not support it. The PC-Police on the left will quarter no dissent. Hope you enjoy pushing a broom, Chris Broussard.

  26. jcaro5566 says: Apr 30, 2013 11:42 AM

    Can you see all of the discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits for the first team stupid enough to willingly sign a gay player. As soon as one gets cut the lawsuits will start flying. Why would any organization want to subject themselves to that risk?

  27. daddyb1gdrawz says: Apr 30, 2013 11:42 AM

    The facts are if you do not say something positive about gay people the media views it as negative. And it is a crying shame that is the environment we live in. No one wants to even touch on the issue and give their true opinions because people judge so heinously.

  28. trulywilde66 says: Apr 30, 2013 11:46 AM

    There is almost always a backlash against the first player to come out, or the first players who support marriage equality.

    It happened to Ellen DeGeneres too. She came out on her hit tv show in the 1990′s and soon it was canceled and she couldn’t find work.

    But Ellen battled back, and society evolved around her. Today she is one of the highest paid women in television.

    Kluwe and Ayanbedejo will experience a backlash, indeed they already have. But they have bravely blazed a trail, and made it easier for those that come after them. And for that they are heros.

  29. heymister24 says: Apr 30, 2013 11:56 AM

    Maybe florio can shower with some gay co-workers and give the green light or not.

  30. mogogo1 says: Apr 30, 2013 12:12 PM

    I bet that right up to the moment Jackie Robinson showed up, many baseball players would have agreed their league wasn’t ready for a black player, either.

    Locker rooms are fairly diverse places already: You’ve got different races, the family guys with lockers next to guys who are with a different woman every night, the religious guys…. If all those groups can coexist I don’t know why a gay guy should be a huge issue.

  31. shaunypoo says: Apr 30, 2013 12:12 PM

    The difference between show biz and sports is that sports is hypermasculine. There are too many derogatory comments casually thrown about that state being gay is weak in a macho culture. It may or may not be true, but I can’t believe anyone who is truly gay and plays professional sports can feel comfortable knowing that all of their teammates have made these jokes. Hell, I make these jokes cause they are funny. Would I feel bad if someone told me they were gay after making a gay joke? Yeah, but I would move on pretty quick. It is a different world in the locker room.

    And why should we care? No one asks me what my sexual proclivities are, and it is none of their business. If you are proud of your sexual orientation why can’t I be proud of mine if it is different than yours? That doesn’t mean we all need to know what it is.

  32. folkcrusader says: Apr 30, 2013 12:13 PM

    It’s likely that many players have already dealt with it. It’s us, the media consumer that is the problem.

  33. wareagletampa says: Apr 30, 2013 12:15 PM

    I think it is more important for a player to open up to his teammates and allow them to embrace him as opposed to succumb to the media pressure to come out to them.

  34. steelerdynasty2010 says: Apr 30, 2013 12:15 PM

    who cares if they’re “ready”, whatever that means. be who you are. you shouldnt get any more of a party for being gay than you get for being straight. CAN YOU MAKE PLAYS or not?

  35. urbusted2 says: Apr 30, 2013 12:15 PM

    In our society, you’d better keep your opinions to yourself if they don’t jive with the liberal agenda. Freedom of speech really doesn’t exist. Only if you think with the mainstream media. That’s the real issue here and not whether a person is straight or gay. I believe the first amendment covers all Americans regardless of their sexual orientation or political views.

  36. staff2cj says: Apr 30, 2013 12:24 PM

    How can you make plays when the other guy is watching you get out the shower? To some this is not normal behavior but society wants us to accept it.

  37. nagaswan says: Apr 30, 2013 12:41 PM

    Players and fans who have a problem with this should be ostracized. Or they should kill themselves and save us the effort.

  38. ob1canobie says: Apr 30, 2013 12:53 PM

    This is coming from a guy who is half Korean who fought for recognition for his status in his mothers country of Korea. Thank God the Koreans were ‘ready’ to accept you…

  39. nagaswan says: Apr 30, 2013 12:56 PM

    God of wine, wouldn’t we have to be conscious to find out if we are right? So we will find out if we are right only if matter and consciousness are completely separate. Which makes no sense.

  40. contraisloosebuthole says: Apr 30, 2013 1:12 PM

    Lets hope this is Ward’s last cheap shot. This guy is a complete dirt bag.

  41. rayburns says: Apr 30, 2013 1:23 PM

    The irony is that, whether they realize it or not, most NFL players have already shared a locker room with a gay player.

  42. starchybunker says: Apr 30, 2013 1:26 PM

    I bet even gay people are getting sick+tired of hearing about gay issues in sports, etc these days…we all need a gay break in the media!

  43. ryanrockzzz says: Apr 30, 2013 1:30 PM

    What exactly in that quote did he say that was a cheap shot? He just stated his opinion. And he said he would support someone who came out. Obviously your personal feelings are in the way.

  44. greysolon says: Apr 30, 2013 1:37 PM

    “It happened to Ellen DeGeneres too. She came out on her hit tv show in the 1990′s and soon it was canceled and she couldn’t find work.”
    —————————————
    FALSE. Her “coming out” episode was the highest rated in the history of a very good show. From that point on, nearly each and every episode was a preachy, self-indulgent bore about gays— and more and more people stopped watching until the network finally dropped it.

    This lesson should not be lost on this site. As the preachiness grows and grows here, CBS Sports’ own site gains and gains.

  45. ice90 says: Apr 30, 2013 2:52 PM

    Maybe being gay is still a big deal in sports. But I don’t understand the opinion that being gay is a big time stigma in our society. Seems like every TV show on the dial includes a gay character or characters who are always portrayed as hip and cool. Plus, there’s an entire network (Bravo) that is dedicated to the celebration of the gay lifestyle. Seems to me that being gay is about the coolest thing out there…………. at least as far as the media is concerned.

  46. ne1935 says: Apr 30, 2013 3:53 PM

    Too much Gay Media for sports. Just play the game and have your play evaluated. Who really knows what will happen in any locker room?
    Who cares?

  47. onbucky96 says: Apr 30, 2013 4:24 PM

    Vetern Steelers seem not fans of alternative lifestyles. Some ask Plax, he was in prision. I’m sure he’s got some stories…

  48. therealpittbull says: Apr 30, 2013 4:54 PM

    The locker room mirrors society. Like Hines said, its not ready and no one wants it.

  49. tigerlilac says: Apr 30, 2013 6:03 PM

    For those that do not see the need to eradicate prejudice against gays and lesbians for the simple human dignity issue involved I would suggest you investigate a story from an ongoing trial in South Africa, where three teenage boys were allegedly tortured to death at a so-called “conversion camp” at the Echo Wild Game Rangers Camp. The boys were sent to the camp by their parents to “be turned into men.” The sadistic acts perpetrated on these young men will make you sick. Prejudice kills.

  50. jrivie says: Apr 30, 2013 6:06 PM

    52 Guys X 32 Teams = 1664 Guys…you dont think some are gay. Oh wait…you just want them to act like they aren’t. Come on America lets just let people be who they are and be proud of it.

  51. deathmonkey41 says: Apr 30, 2013 7:26 PM

    Maybe now that no team wants him, Tim Tebow will finally come out to the world.

  52. pingdanny says: Apr 30, 2013 7:53 PM

    Let’s all revel in the words of wisdom in one of the historically most dirtiest players in the NFL. Here’s a statement…”the football fans of America (ex the Stillir dolts) aren’t ready and don’t give a crap about what Hines Ward has to say about football, let alone a serious issue like this”

  53. mojoquasi says: May 1, 2013 9:54 AM

    What a bunch of crap. There are gay players all throughout the NFL and they are all known to their fellow players and if you think otherwise you’re an idiot. There’s never been a problem until the media got hold of it and tried and is still trying to make something out of it.

  54. nananatman says: May 1, 2013 10:58 AM

    Then shouldn’t he be quiet?

  55. Myron Mesecke says: May 1, 2013 11:13 AM

    Will the first openly gay NFL player be a tight end or a wide receiver? (old joke)

  56. waltrd says: May 1, 2013 3:46 PM

    And when will it be, Hines? Apparently, Hines has forgotten Black history when the same thing was said by racists relative to civil rights, namely: now is not the time for “Negroes” to obtain their civil rights in our nation.

  57. pizzon says: May 3, 2013 6:07 PM

    All Mike Wallace’s comments suggest is that he is not ready to be around a gay player. He doesn’t speak for the league.

    I tyhink Mike is confused here, just because one of your team mates maight be gay doesnt mean you have to hangout with the guy after the gm, which is how I feel. I could care less about your social life, as long as you can help the team win gms and you dont impose your lifestyle on me I dont have a problem with you.

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