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Terrell Thomas not sure NFL is ready for an openly gay player

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Earlier this week, former Ravens and Vikings center Matt Birk was asked about Michael Sam and said he thought that someone’s sexuality didn’t come into play at work.

Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas isn’t so sure that Birk is right. Thomas called the attention that will be directed at Sam a lot for one player and said that it “could be difficult for some people” in NFL locker rooms to accept Sam because they aren’t sure how to act around an openly gay teammate.

“I think society is ready for it and America’s ready for it, but I don’t think the NFL is,” Thomas said, via ESPNNewYork.com. “As a player, all you want to know is if he can play. That’s on the field. But in the locker room, it’s different. There’s a lot of talk and joking around, and some guys walk around completely naked all the time, and they might not want to do that anymore. When you add that situation to the mix, I think it’s going to make some people uncomfortable.”

Thomas said his “views as a Christian” contributed to his own uncertainty about how things will go for Sam in the NFL and said he was “pretty sure” he’s played with other gay players during his career, but that there was a big difference between “knowing and not knowing” when it came to the locker room. As for the Missouri team accepting and embracing Sam in their locker room, Thomas said it was different because they knew Sam before he came out.

It would be naïve to think that Thomas is incorrect about the potential discomfort that some players may have with sharing a locker room with Sam, but it seems Sam’s decision to come out now would be better for his future teammates than waiting as he did at Missouri.

Every player in the team is a potential teammate of Sam’s right now and they have several months to contemplate the possibility that they’ll have to deal with their discomfort now rather than having it pop up once Sam’s already on the team. Using that time should make it easier for everyone to focus on football more quickly once Sam does land with a team.

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51 Responses to “Terrell Thomas not sure NFL is ready for an openly gay player”
  1. ez4u2sa says: Feb 12, 2014 10:19 AM

    Maybe Terrell Thomas needs to get his head out of the sand.

  2. nflofficeadmin says: Feb 12, 2014 10:20 AM

    The pundits blasted players like TO, Moss, etc because even though they could play, they disrupted the chemistry of the locker room.

  3. arwiv says: Feb 12, 2014 10:23 AM

    I think the simple fact that so many stories have been written about this kid is proof in itself that it will be an issue, whether or not people want to admit it. If it wasn’t an issue….then why all the stories about it?

  4. arwiv says: Feb 12, 2014 10:25 AM

    Terrell Thomas came back form 3 ACL injuries and you wont find a guy in the Giants locker room more respected. Maybe some people have to accept the fact that not everyone is comfortable with everything.

  5. qdog112 says: Feb 12, 2014 10:26 AM

    He’ll be sure when the league office begins to levy heavy fines against players who wanna share their personal thoughts publicly. Especially the ones that run counter to the edict for tolerance that will be handed down.

    I contend that the players are the least of the concerns of the NFL. They will comply when their wallets get hit and suspensions are handed out.

    The players and pundits can’t be so dumb as to think they matter in this case. The NFL, NFLPA and the owners have spoken. This will happen with or without the players blessing.

  6. rutchaser says: Feb 12, 2014 10:26 AM

    At least the locker room will have a mobile towell rack now.

  7. All-American Voltron says: Feb 12, 2014 10:28 AM

    Yeah, a sport that starts every play with one guy stroking another guy’s anus and scrotum isn’t ready for gayness in the locker room …

  8. robvmj says: Feb 12, 2014 10:30 AM

    When people are talking about “distraction” they are not referring to the fact that a player has come out as openly gay but to the medias obsession about an openly gay player in the NFL. There is no bigger evidence of this than ProFootballTalk.com’s obsession where since the story broke every other article on this site has been used to bate people from both sides of the issue.

    I refuse to read any more articles on the subject and will let his play determine his “football value”, his value as a human being is neither devalued or more valued by his sexual preference.

  9. jaltreality says: Feb 12, 2014 10:30 AM

    Sure, it’ll be difficult for some. Perhaps there will even be conflict. No one is saying it will be easy. It wasn’t for Jackie Robinson, either. But, progress will march on.

  10. cheapseater says: Feb 12, 2014 10:32 AM

    Ready or not…

  11. raiderufan says: Feb 12, 2014 10:42 AM

    As a person firmly in the corner that supports Sam I see nothing wrong with this.

    It’s adding a new dynamic to the locker room and will take adjustment. If you support Sam and his decision but can’t realize that this will take an adjustment from the straight men in the locker room your being as blind as the people condemning him.

    The difference between this and the comments made by the CFL players is about a mile wide. If you can’t tell the difference and why one is the wrong way to approach this and the other isn’t than I’m sorry for you and your need for the “right” to attack anyone who isn’t like you.

  12. manderson367 says: Feb 12, 2014 10:49 AM

    It’s called “A Difference of Opinion” and last time I checked it’s still legal to have one.
    I find it interesting that we have all this Anti-Bullying stuff going on and how bullying is such a bad thing, but OMG let someone say something that might go against the “norm” and watch that person get bullied into submission.
    So being opening Gay is okay (Sam) but being openly Christian isn’t (Tebow)? Sam is being hailed as a hero and Tebow was treated with open disdain and hatred. (I didn’t refer to either person playing ability)
    Personally, I don’t give a crap about anyone sexuality but quit putting this guy (Sam) on a freaking pedestal. His a mid-round unproven talent at best at this time. If he hadn’t come out most NFL fans wouldn’t even know his name.

  13. fr0sted21 says: Feb 12, 2014 10:51 AM

    I have no problem with anyone’s lifestyle choice, but I am sure of you let a man into a woman’s locker room, some of the women wouldn’t be comfortable either..

  14. riggz91 says: Feb 12, 2014 10:51 AM

    I get where he is coming from. These guys joke and rag on each other all the time, similar to most guys. These guys might think with Sam they might have to be extra careful in what they say and walk on egg shells. Gotta respect his opinion.

  15. thelastwordyaheard says: Feb 12, 2014 10:52 AM

    anyone who’s ever played a sport & particularly football, knows the locker room dynamics & realizes that this is going to be a bad situation no matter where he lands.. what people think should be the case & what actually is will be vastly different under these circumstances.. it’s not all unicorns & rainbows

  16. ravenswhat says: Feb 12, 2014 10:55 AM

    Lol at “aren’t sure to act”. Do people really think having a gay guy in the locker room will mean he will pounce on them? Do straight guys pounce on women in the work place? I don’t understand why people have such a hard time letting others live how they want to live when it’s not affecting them at all.

  17. jda129 says: Feb 12, 2014 11:00 AM

    After the first few days of having him in the locker room pass by boner free I’m sure his uncomfortable teammates will be over it and move on.

  18. nyyjetsknicks says: Feb 12, 2014 11:01 AM

    manderson367 says:
    Feb 12, 2014 10:49 AM

    So being opening Gay is okay (Sam) but being openly Christian isn’t (Tebow)? Sam is being hailed as a hero and Tebow was treated with open disdain and hatred. (I didn’t refer to either person playing ability)

    __________________

    Yes, the long war on Christianity. I pray that one day we may live in an America where Christians can worship freely! In broad daylight! Openly wearing the symbols of their religion… perhaps around their necks? And maybe — dare I dream it? — maybe one day there can be an openly Christian President. Or, perhaps, 43 of them. Consecutively.
    – Jon Stewart

  19. buffalobills716 says: Feb 12, 2014 11:10 AM

    This boy Sam hurt himself with this foolish remark of his. Keeping it to his self makes more sense in my opinion. Wanting attention sometimes hurt u big time and spoil opportunity 4 u. Him wish he never said it on national TV

  20. phinatic29 says: Feb 12, 2014 11:10 AM

    The NFL is ready, apparently the media isn’t though because apparently they think its a BIG DEAL.

    keep talking to everyone, eventually a couple guys say something that is not politically correct then BAM – WE GOT US SOME NEWS BOYS!!!

  21. floratiotime says: Feb 12, 2014 11:12 AM

    Murder is a sin too, right? Looking at you Ray Lewis.

  22. wishingtonredslur says: Feb 12, 2014 11:12 AM

    See the media will beat his team over the head with it but will the player spend every minute beating his mates over the head with it? I doubt it. I think he wants to play football. Also gay people have a sense of humor too and the man has already been in at least a couple of locker rooms. You’d be surprised how often gay people drop the f-bomb at each other it really is just like black players dropping the n-bomb at each other. It really is matter of an individual measuring the animosity level behind the usage.

  23. cuzinrizzle says: Feb 12, 2014 11:13 AM

    I’m a straight athlete and I hate when guys get naked in the locker room. Use a shower or a stall because I don’t need your johnson in my grill haha

  24. mshawn75 says: Feb 12, 2014 11:15 AM

    Someone is going to explain to the players that the “locker room” is part of a work place. As such, there are Federal and State laws against certain behavior. None of us are allowed to go into the break (or lunch room) where we are employed and make racial or sexual statements with out consequences.

  25. mburkett1980 says: Feb 12, 2014 11:31 AM

    I just don’t understand why it is okay for a woman to be uncomfortable if she were naked and a man was in a locker room but it is not okay for a man to be uncomfortable if a gay man is in the locker room.

    What’s the difference?

  26. herrcules13 says: Feb 12, 2014 11:38 AM

    Great. We get to read an article for each and every NFL player, past present or future, that has an opinion. I can’t wait.

  27. ratsfoiledagain says: Feb 12, 2014 11:39 AM

    It’s a distraction because the straight players are making it one.

    Players are wondering if Michael will stare at them, hit on them, etc.

    How many NFL players stare at nice looking to drop dead gorgeous women? Don’t you think those women get uncomfortable as well?

    Look what Namath did to Suzi Colber, as an example.

  28. petehemlock says: Feb 12, 2014 11:46 AM

    Christianity says don’t judge your fellow man TT. ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.’

  29. winstonjed44 says: Feb 12, 2014 11:51 AM

    I understand the fact that everyone won’t be comfortable with having a gay teammate in the locker room. However what does it mean saying the NFL isn’t ready? If not now than when? A year from now? 5 years? 10? 20? What would have to take place that would prepare the NFL for it and make it ready? I don’t think there will ever be a perfect time, the NFL is about as ready now as it will be in the foreseeable future.

  30. simkatu says: Feb 12, 2014 12:00 PM

    If they are able to get over having a murderer like Ray Lewis in the locker room without any distraction, I’m sure they’ll be able to handle a gay guy.

    This is just pure nonsense. Any player that says this would affect their on field performance is a chump not worthy to wear a uniform. It is the equivalent of saying that having Jackie Robinson in the locker room is a distraction. If you think it’s a distraction, then its you that has the problem, not anyone else.

  31. granadafan says: Feb 12, 2014 12:00 PM

    “Thomas said his “views as a Christian” contributed to his own uncertainty about how things will go for Sam in the NFL and said he was “pretty sure” he’s played with other gay players during his career”
    =============================================

    Hmmm, if preachers/ ministers in churches started to preach more about acceptance and loving instead of bigotry and hatred, then this country would be a LOT better off. Picking and choosing which verses in the Bible to take literally is ridiculous. Religious extremism and ignorance are the result of that.

  32. justintuckrule says: Feb 12, 2014 12:00 PM

    What I don’t get is that most stadiums now are state of the art multi-billion dollar facilities. Not to mention, the teams hire players (i.e. entertainers) that make more money then we’ll ever see. Are you telling me that these teams still make players use communal shower facilities?? Heck….my YMCA has private showers. Join the 21st century, use some of that Direct TV money and build a bank of private showers for chrissake. Then, the whole “we’re naked together” argument goes out the window and this is no big deal any longer.

  33. fievel03 says: Feb 12, 2014 12:01 PM

    fr0sted21 says:
    Feb 12, 2014 10:51 AM
    I have no problem with anyone’s lifestyle choice
    ____________________________________
    Except the problem is, it isn’t a choice. Like the age-old argument says – when did you choose to be straight?

  34. guinsrule says: Feb 12, 2014 12:08 PM

    There won’t be any open hostility, players are too smart for that. The resentment and hostility will take play behind his back when the players feel free to express their true feelings.

  35. guinsrule says: Feb 12, 2014 12:10 PM

    *place

  36. shlort says: Feb 12, 2014 12:14 PM

    Funny how people who post on here think they know what it takes to be a pro football player. Pro athletes are not of the same mindset as the average joe walking around in this country. it takes a certain type of personality to become a professional caliber football player. I think the guys who play the game know better than a bunch of rubes who are on the outside looking in. If players think Sam will have some stuff to deal with on a team, they are in the right place to know. All you clowns who think Sam will/should be welcomed with open arms are fools. Bottom line, Sam should have kept his personal sexual preferences to himself and played some football if he was capable. Now, we will ahve a player that seeks a career and will have a lot of problems to deal with because he pushed the envelope on an issue that is not quite ready for prime time.

  37. wjarvis says: Feb 12, 2014 12:20 PM

    “some guys walk around completely naked all the time, and they might not want to do that anymore.”

    Oh no, guys will feel uncomfortable walking around naked all the time, I’m sure this never made any of the other players or media uncomfortable before.

  38. angrytwitterguy says: Feb 12, 2014 12:25 PM

    You don’t need to be comfortable with it, you just have to accept that you’re a paid professional and do your job.

  39. daddyb1gdrawz says: Feb 12, 2014 12:30 PM

    Anyone disagreeing with Terrell Thomas comments are misguided. He is 100% correct. While Sam will get the support of his teammates the fact is he is attracted to the same sex as he will be showering with. It is no different than a heterosexual male showering with heterosexual women. There is a level of discomfort there.

  40. The Great Ted Thompson the Genius says: Feb 12, 2014 12:33 PM

    @granadafan –
    I’m sure you’ve never been in a church in your life so maybe you shouldn’t comment about what ministers are preaching.

  41. nagaswan says: Feb 12, 2014 12:35 PM

    Tt is not ready to have a job

  42. FoozieGrooler says: Feb 12, 2014 12:40 PM

    “..Terrell Thomas not sure NFL is ready for an openly gay player…”

    Translation:
    “Terrell Thomas not sure HE is ready for an openly gay player.”

    Call it what it is invertebrate.
    So far, Michael Sam has more spine than you.

  43. cfos00 says: Feb 12, 2014 1:05 PM

    So basically, when an athletes says that the NFL isn’t ready for a gay player, they are also implying that a college football team playing at the highest levels is more mature and mentally strong than the NFL locker room. Mizzou not only handled having an openly (to them) gay player, but managed to have a great season without any major drama. Yet players in the NFL don’t seem to think that, as grown men, they can handle working with a gay co-worker. Interesting that the college kids seem to be the group that can strap on some big boy pants and act like adults when working with someone who happens to have a different lifestyle than they do. And the college players probably spend even more time together than NFL players do. Ridiculous.

  44. mediasloppy says: Feb 12, 2014 1:10 PM

    Yeah, cuz dudes who walk nude around the locker room aren’t secure enough in their masculinity. They are the last players to care if someone sees their Johnson.

    The same people who might be uncomfortable are probably the same ones that wait for a bathroom stall, because they don’t want to pee in a trough in a public restroom.

  45. bigjdve says: Feb 12, 2014 1:10 PM

    The NFL isn’t ready, period. How could it be? It hasn’t every dealt with it before so how would they know exactly how to deal with any repercussions or issues that come up.

    Being gay shouldn’t matter. However, he made it matter when he went public with it. The media continues to make it matter by putting up so much information about it. The articles seem to be about Sam, what about all of the other players? What about the top prospects, what about who the teams should or could draft? Now the entire circus is about this average to below average talent player.

    He made himself more visible. Now the NFL has to deal with it. Should they, yes they should as orientation shouldn’t matter.

    The NFL will be ready when all of those players that are currently playing and gay think that they are okay. It isn’t about what the fans or media think it is how the teams feel and work together.

    The only way to get the NFL ready, is to integrate the players. The first handful of gay players are going to have a rough go of it, so they had better have thick skin.

    I wish them well.

    I say let the best players play.

  46. fdugrad says: Feb 12, 2014 1:25 PM

    Hmmm, “Society and America are ready for it, but I don’t think The NFL is.” This doesn’t speak very well of The NFL does it? The league is fine with addicts, adulterers, women beaters, felonious assaulters, vehicular murderers and other assorted law breakers and misfits, however a GAY MAN accepted in the locker room? Sorry, the thought of two people loving one another is simply too GHASTLY to even imagine, much less DEAL with! Time to trudge back into your cave Terrell.

  47. The Great Ted Thompson the Genius says: Feb 12, 2014 1:40 PM

    I would be much more comfortable in a locker room with a gay man who dresses discreetly than with a straight man who insists on walking around naked all the time.

  48. nouhoh64 says: Feb 12, 2014 2:52 PM

    No one should make trouble for a gay person but no one should be forced to accept a gay lifestyle either. I see one side talking about courage then bashing people who don’t agree with them.

  49. charliemeatwagon says: Feb 12, 2014 3:05 PM

    It won’t be a distraction in San Diego.

  50. kerc1986 says: Feb 12, 2014 3:07 PM

    So let me get this straight on nfl locker, bunch of dudes walk naked and is not big deal, they see everything, but as soon as gay guy comes into locker room, they all get scared, because u think gay player will want to have you?
    Just like they said on show, is all about characters guys in locker room, like WR donte who kill a person while driving, and Ray lewis who obstruct the law, or like vick who killed dogs, and wr from eagles who used the N word, all those guys now are character persons, but being gay in nfl no way.

  51. bigdaddy44 says: Feb 12, 2014 4:40 PM

    Look at how his teammates at Mizzou accepted him. It sounds like they supported and acted respectfully to Sam. I’m sure some were not comfortable, but it sounds like these young men acted like adults. I believe he will be treated with the same respect by his NFL teammates, even the ones who may feel uncomfortable over this. It is the media that is the problem here. The media is now and will continue to blow the story out of proportion for the purpose of promoting their product. Just let the young man do his job, and this will lead to others leading open lives.
    As for Christianity, a true Christian would view this lifestyle as sin but “love the sinner, hate the sin,” and support the man Michael Sam, even if he doesn’t agree with him. That is because the true Christian realizes that he has plenty of his OWN sin to atone for, let alone hypocritically chastising someone else. He should be in the forefront of befriending Sam, because we are all children of God.

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