My friend (not sarcasm) Drew Magary, who writes among other things for our friends (some sarcasm, depending on what mood they’re in) at Deadspin, contacted me this week with a question about free-agent safety Kerry Rhodes.
Rhodes has become a forgotten man in NFL circles, with his name never mentioned despite being available and not, you know, retired.
So I did a little digging, and I learned that four teams worked out defensive backs this past week. No team — those four or the other 28 — kicked tires on Kerry Rhodes.
Magary points out that Rhodes still has the goods, and that he can help a team win. Why, then, isn’t Rhodes on a team?I became more curious about the situation. A source who would know whether there is any buzz about Kerry Rhodes told me there’s no buzz about Kerry Rhodes. I shared that with Magary. Who put it in his article at Deadspin. Which I’m linking here. Which means that for the first time in the existence of the site I’m aggregating an article in which I’m quoted as a source of news.
(Somewhere, a small crack has been opened in the space-time continuum.)
Magary thinks Rhodes possibly is being blackballed because of Internet rumors that emerged during the offseason about Rhodes’ sexual orientation. Rhodes has denied the rumors, the photos that sparked the rumors have disappeared, but no one has shown any interest in giving Rhodes another chance to play.
It’s impossible to rule out the notion that teams are looking elsewhere to avoid the potential distractions that would arise from Rhodes either being outed or coming out, despite his denials. Which provides all the more justification for gay NFL players who may be considering acknowledging publicly who they are to continue to stay firmly in the closet.
NFL teams can say that they welcome gay players. But NFL teams (and, specifically, NFL coaches) don’t want distractions. For the same reason Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano didn’t want to be answering questions about whether he applied Enron-style accounting to the vote that stripped the captain title from quarterback Josh Freeman, no head coach wants to have to spend time answering questions about any topic unrelated to the task at hand — preparing for the next game on the schedule.
Right or wrong, that’s the reality of the NFL. The fact that a team would actually be willing to deprive itself of a player who could help win the next game on the schedule and beyond shows how screwed up that approach could be.