A new poll of NFL players suggests that most would have no problem sharing a locker room with Michael Sam or any other gay player.
The poll, conducted by ESPN, asked 51 NFL players if a player’s sexual orientation matters. Only seven of them, or 14 percent, said yes, while 44 of them, or 86 percent, said no.
One participant in the poll, described as a starting wide receiver, said openness would is the key to Sam being treated well in an NFL locker room.
“Whoever takes [Sam in the draft] should have an open talk at the beginning of camp, where everybody can ask what he’s comfortable with, what offends him, what boundaries there should be,” the player said. “When it comes to race, people already know the boundaries, to a certain extent. But I don’t think football players are overly familiar with what can and can’t be said around a gay person.”
That points to one problem the NFL still has: The majority of players also said that they had teammates and coaches who used homophobic slurs in the past season. Which means that while most players would be comfortable with a gay teammate, it doesn’t necessarily follow that gay players would be made to feel welcomed.