Sexuality remains the elephant in the room for Te’o

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As the public and the media begin to grow weary (we hope) with the controversy involving former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, the fake dead girlfriend story hasn’t begun to die for teams interested in Te’o’s talents.

The lying to his father and Te’o’s failure to come clean once he knew or should have known that the dead girlfriend was neither real nor dead are minor issues in comparison to things other players do.  That’s a point former Chiefs G.M. Scott Pioli made eloquently during Friday’s Pro Football Talk on NBC Sports Network.

But the elephant in the room for many scouts relates to the question that Katie Couric abruptly posed to Te’o — and that Te’o answered in a way that speaks volumes as to the current culture of football:  Is Te’o gay?

If he is, it shouldn’t matter.  Still, people go to extensive lengths in an effort to conceal who they really are, thanks to a society that in many respects still doesn’t tolerate or accept those who are different.  Thus, the fact that no current NFL player has come out of the closet proves that the NFL isn’t ready for a player to come out of the closet.  Who, after all, would be better to gauge the response to an openly gay NFL player than a closeted one?

With Te’o, the fact that his fake, dead girlfriend was actually a real, live male has done nothing to resolve questions that originated with speculation that having a pretend female in California provided plausible cover for not chasing real ones on campus.  With Ronaiah Tuiasosopo admitting to Dr. Phil that Tuiasosopo was in love with Te’o, the unanswered question became whether Te’o had any inkling that he, too, was in love with a man.

It shouldn’t matter.  In the NFL universe, it just does.  Right or wrong (i.e., wrong) for it to matter, it does.

And so at a time when everyone seems to be bracing for the moment when the league will welcome an openly gay player, teams are trying to figure out whether they would be drafting a closeted one.

This doesn’t mean that any teams would take Te’o off the board if he turned out to be gay.  (Of course, some could choose to shy away from him without ever articulating the reason.)  Given the realities of NFL locker rooms, however, teams simply want to know what they’d be getting.

Again, it shouldn’t matter.  In the NFL universe, it just does.

98 responses to “Sexuality remains the elephant in the room for Te’o

  1. Right, professional team sports are just about the last place where someone still has to lie about their sexual preference. Te’o might be gay. If so, it explains a lot about the absurd lengths he went to. But it is sad and pathetic that he can’t be who he is. Someday it will happen. Not yet, not with him. It is going to have to be a truly great player that breaks that barrier.

  2. If footall players are gay they’ll turn our kids gay. Then, our kids won’t be able to reproduce and the world will literally end.

    – Right wing logic

  3. Typically I like my football news to be about, u know, football. But since I slept at a holiday inn last night, I’m throwing in my 2cents. As a fan, I don’t care if the guy is straight, gay, marries his dog or pulls a Dennis Rodman and marries hisself. If he plays for my team and he’s good, I’m going to cheer for him. If he sucks, I’m gonna boo him.

  4. All the super macho ‘roid cases live in abject fear that some gay guy in their locker room is going walk up to them and plant a big wet one on their lips. Or they’re afraid to drop the soap in the shower because the gay guy might not be able to resist their manliness and try to, you know . . . drive home the point.

  5. Why are people getting so worked up over gay or not gay anyway? The speculation and scrutiny this young man is being subjected to by the media(PFT included) about his sexual orientation is no less damaging then the comments the Culliver spewed during the Super Bowl.

  6. Horton always seemed light in the feet. Is this what they meant when he heard a who?

  7. I am sooooo sick of hearing about this dude and all of the drama that I could freaking puke. The desperate media feeding frenzy is beyond pathetic. How many times does this place report the same dang story with a different witty twist?How many this weekend…how many today? My god report something constructive. Reminds me of past Bonds, Favre, TO, Lebron, etc stories that would not die.

  8. I’m not the one nor God 2 judge people,but I will respect him more if he said him gay. But gay or not,that boy got talent and I will love he to come to Western NY. And Disclaimers,stop judging ppl no one is perfect under the sun,some people just good at hiding their dirt. Let the kid have fun and enjoy his life. He got one life to live,so let em live it. What the big deal if him gay?didn’t Jesus Christ kissed another man?exactly,so let the guy have some peace. U guys don’t know what he been through in his lives or what him goes thru daily,so stop the negativity and let the kid live his life to the fullest. Yall judging him like a criminal which he not

  9. Of course it doesn’t matter. But of course Florio keeps talking about it as if it did matter. Typical. (Now delete this post Florio, you coward.)

  10. The question of sexuality has never been about the fans, the owners or the NFL itself. It’s the locker room; thus the issue.

  11. It only matters because certain folks will try to make a news story of it. What he does, or doesn’t do, in the bedroom is really his business and his business alone.

  12. I don’t think it is the elephant in the room, actually. This is the first time I’ve heard it mentioned since the absurd interview question from Katie Couric- Its just that this guy couldn’t think of anything relevant to say

  13. This young man has no idea what he is walking into.
    The NFL don’t play.
    He better be really strong in the head or he will get curb stomped.
    Notre Football League ain’t where he’s headed.

  14. It is fairly obvious Teo is gay. How can you have a two year phone relationship with another man who has a man’s voice and not be gay. It shouldn’t matter but it will in the macho world of an NFL locker room it will.

  15. I disagree that it does matter and that the NFL Universe is different than other sub-universes. Each team has it’s own owner and leadership, and if a closeted player is not welcomed into this atmosphere, then that has nothing to do with the sport or the game, and everything to do with the culture of the people that own these teams and run these teams (and the league) and have not evolved to a modern way of thinking that is free from prejudice and bigotry.

    It doesn’t help the matter that there happens to be a high correlation of certain types of prejudiced people that are associated with power in the NFL, but that has nothing to do with sexuality or acceptance of one’s sexuality, and there are TONS of reasons why those type of people happen to be the ones that have been in charge of the NFL and it’s teams, and they are the ones that have shaped this culture since this league existed.

    You can’t say that it’s the NFL that won’t welcome them, that’s mish-mashing the truth of the matter (since the League is comprised of an assortment of people with a wide variety of beliefs and origins of how they became part of the league) and it’s not isolating how and why one thinks that this is a real phenomenon. It is not however, and this topic needs to be more closely examined in order to separate the confusion from the reality.

    The NFL is a slow to develop organization with horrid leadership and vision for the future. This kind of shameful neglect is the very reason why this phenomenon seems to exist. The people who had the responsibility to care for the teams’ and the league’s interests have went out of their way to take a destructive path that developed this perceived phenomenon. It is this group of do-badders that won’t accept a closeted player to come out, not the game or the sport or the league in principle.

  16. I’m so sick of people using the locker room excuse! They have women reporters in the locker room and no one cares about that. Do you stupid ass straight men really think a gay man is going to jump some straight guy in a locker shower room? And for checking out the junk, we’ve seen enough male nudity to give a rats ass. If the guy can play football, who cares what he does off the field. Or would he be more of a man if he drove drunk and got his passenger killed in a car wreck? Or skip out on alimony for a baby that he had a one-night stand with the baby’s mother?

  17. Here is a false statement.

    “Thus, the fact that no current NFL player has come out of the closet proves that the NFL isn’t ready for a player to come out of the closet.”

    Or it could mean that there are no NFL players that are gay.

    I don’t care one way or the other, but lets not make false statements seem like truth.

  18. How.does one make the jump that teo is gay? Is it your agenda to push this? He seams like an idiot that got fooled. He then continued the ruse because he didn’t want to admit he was the victim of being fooled..Did you investigate his female.relationships at notre.dame? I really think the liberals and their agenda is are at work here. I understand you all.want the gay Jackie Robinson. Don’t worry it will happen. Its terrible that you have to say this may be he case with teo without proof. Like the majority of the people on this page we don’t give a crape if number 5 is gay straight or is a unic. How.well can he play on Sunday is the only question we all care about…

  19. I haven’t heard one reference to a players sexuality other than PFT. Other than Te’o being asked by Couric there hasn’t been talk of sexual preference from scouts/analysts or other media besides Florio TMZ writer. Pretty weak

  20. somuchintheworld says:Feb 24, 2013 4:46 PM

    If he plays for my team and he’s good, I’m going to cheer for him. If he sucks, I’m gonna boo him.

    Did you mean that literally?

  21. The only reason for NFL teams to be concerned about drafting Manti Te’o would be if they planned on moving him to tight end. His imaginary girlfriend tells me that this is no longer an option for him.

  22. So does anyone know if scouts and evaluators are actually wondering whether he is gay and considering that in their evaluation? Or is that just Florio’s idea? It sounds to me like the latter based on this. This doesn’t sound like a report with any basis.

  23. He is certainly gay…not that it matters. Dont know what all the fuss is about. If yuo are a college star, and you havent banged atleast 200 woman on your campus,. you are simply gay! Those are the facts of society! Religion is such a convenient excuse, hahah

  24. No one really cares either way. Well except the gay Gestapo/secularist who wants to force everyone to accept them. How is theis different than the Islamists and their Jihad? It isn’t. It’s quite ironic too because everyone should be accept, well not quite everyone if you think being gay is unnatural, immoral and deivant then well you will not be accepted. Fascism in the highest!

  25. With the prevailing macho attitude in sports I think a woman will be accepted in the locker room before a gay man would.

  26. How many times can Florio attempt to cover his cowardly ass by qualifying his article with, “It shouldn’t matter, but…”

    Stop pandering to the gays and gay-lovers and just write the article minus all the ball-less qualification, Florio. Do you have any idea how pathetic you sound?

  27. I have never understood the culture in any locker room, male or female, why individuals most be forced to swallow their modesty ( please, no unseemly jokes) and parade naked in front of one another, straight or gay. “I don’t know you like that!” would be my personal sentiment regardless. Why should any person have to forgo the basic right to privacy. Cover up period, then this conversation in sports would be moot.

  28. I played ball all the way through college… No way I’m showing next to a piece of “FRESH FRUIT”… Not gonna happen. I deal with these on occasion doing security. Not cool. They go out of their way to act effeminate. Let them be confused in private or away from the NFL.

  29. It shouldn’t matter if he is gay or not. Teams should be worried about the fact of how gullible and brain dead/stupid he seems to be.

    I still however, do not buy his story.

  30. When I was 10, Jerry Smith–at the time starting TE for the Redkins–came to my school. He spent a lot of time talking to us boys, both as a group and individually, seemed like a real nice man. 13 years or so later he tragically became the first former NFL player to die of AIDS (1986). It was only after he died that he was “outed” as gay. That does not change that he was a nice man, nor that he was a superb TE.

  31. The guy that breaks the mold is going to have to be the most manly of gay men and a star. If you can run fast, catch good, tackle, cover, or block it doesn’t matter, play for my team (football).

  32. Gun-Americans are way more hated and oppressed than gay-Americans, yet that kind of discrimination is promoted by the NFL and the sports media…

  33. Here’s a crazy idea – how about if florio focused on at least “trying” to be a real journalist – instead of the weak(and sooo lame) attempts at getting people’s attention by making up ridiculous stories for shock value….

  34. Whomever wrote this story more then once stated it doesnt matter, shouldnt matter…then why write this story?…its media people like you that want an issue to be a non story, yet write about it obsessively. Cant have ot both ways Florio.

  35. Gay? Spare me the platitudes. I couldn’t care less. It’s about his mental stability.

  36. This guy is only a (potential) rookie. He must follow tradition and let the veterans go first. So he must wait to come out until after Tebow.

  37. Look, I’m sorry, but if you’re going to take your pleasure in a another man’s ass, you have to be prepared to take some crap for it. Why shouldn’t the straight guys be uncomfortable with this?

  38. To the guy that says if you havent banged 200 women on campus then you must be gay…well then you must be an idiot…women weaken legs and there is plenty of time for him to plow some fields…so he built a relationship with someone over the internet and phone that i dont know millions of people are doing these days…voice analyzers said it was a woman and so the man thats been lying to people for years says the voice was him and you believe him…real smart..teo went to a catholic school and grew up on an island where im sure everyone knew everybodys im sure he trusts a little more the he should…but when your at the top people always look to bring you down and this is just another case of that…..GO IRISH!!!

  39. Here the truth that some of you don’t want to face:

    Football players don’t want to play with a gay player..okay??? What is so hard to understand about that?? Do you not understand that an openly gay player can disrupt the cohesiveness and camaraderie of the team??

    A GM is taking a chance of messing up his lockerroom with this guy. So if your thinking about drafting him, you’d better do your homework!

  40. brintfatre says:
    Feb 24, 2013 7:09 PM
    Gun-Americans are way more hated and oppressed than gay-Americans, yet that kind of discrimination is promoted by the NFL and the sports media…”

    Are you freaking kidding me? Oppressed? Ah, no. So called gun Americans are in the news because of their extremist stance towards guns and because they’re killing people. Gays are not killing anyone.

  41. Oh God we’re back to a lack of evidence “speaking volumes”. Wasn’t Florio an attorney in a former life… where in the rules of evidence does it state that a lack of evidence proves that something is fact. If that’s your logic I have a bridge to sell you.

    If Florio thinks sports isn’t ready for it he is totally missing the ball. They are waiting for someone to step up and take the mantle. There’s no elephants.

    Jackie Robinson had to overcome a barrier to achieve his historical status. Someone had to let him play. All someone has to do is call the New York Times and say “I’m gay” and as long as they are famous enough they will be seen as the trail blazer.

    Teo would be that star. His stock will never be higher, he’s as close to the center of the media world right now as he ever will be. He would immediately become Jackie Robinson and decades from now his number would be retired and his name would be in history books and his face on stamps and coins. IF he is gay, this immortality is guaranteed to him.

    So if all this is true… and he’s not doing it… isn’t that better evidence he’s not.

  42. I’m not going to say that it doesn’t matter. I’ m just saying that it does not matter to me. Of the things to write a story about. Love him, hate him, draft him or don’t, gay or not, I really just don’t care anymore. It is amazing to me how they articles they can milk out of the same story. Please, for the love of god, make it stop!

  43. I don’t care about Te’o’s sexual preference, but sadly others will…If he ends up in a big-market city the media’s gonna eat him alive, and regardless of who he plays for, the trash-talk from opposing players will be merciless. I have seen nothing from Manti to indicate that he is strong enough mentally to deal with what he is likely to face as an NFL player, and this is what makes him a risky pick.

  44. If it “doesn’t matter” (which it doesn’t) then do your big part and don’t report on it whatsoever.

  45. Dude why should this matter? If I got dduped by some guy pretending to be a girl, I wouldn’t have to explain anything to my work/family. It’s his personal life, since when did professional athletes sign over their right to not have a private life? I understand they are going to be in the public eye most of the time, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed any privacy. Get a life media it’s 2013. Gay people are just as chill as straight people.

  46. This kid just spent three years romancing someone he never attempted to meet. Obviously, he has zero sex drive, which means his sexuality is nonexistent.

  47. Why is it that because the ownership doesn’t want a gay employee does that make the owners bigots? Why do some of you say the owners aren’t thinking with a modern mind? What difference does it make. I think they have modern minds. Look at how well they have provided the number 1 entertainment sport in the US. You want them to risk the well being of their teams and team cohesiveness just because a minority of sexually different people want to be open about their sexuality? I don’t. Keep it to yourself. These guys don’t want to know. Get it?

    In 50 years I have never been asked in an interview if I’m gay. I’ve never walked in a hetro parade nor do I need to. Nor do gays need to. Keep your sexuality to yourself please.

    The owners risked their livelyhoods to become owners. They should have the right to hire whoever they want.

    I miss the old don’t ask don’t tell rules for the military. It has worked in main stream America for years and years. It worked for the military. Then one day a gay person decides they need a celebatory parade and now look what is happening.

  48. The problem with this argument is that it blatantly ignores the real elephant in the room; actually, an entire herd of them. To wit:

    –The first NFL player to announce that they are gay will never, ever be known merely as an NFL player – they will forever be the GAY NFL PLAYER. Their sexual preference – the most intimate choice a person makes – will be what defines them. The press will see to it that they are branded as such, because…

    –…the press NEEDS an NFL player to be openly gay, so that they can then use them to flog the public with their superior progressive attitudes. They will do this by forever commenting on, featuring in clips, and editorializing about the very player they want us to just “accept” without noticing their sexual preference.

    –If you thought Tim Tebow created a circus atmosphere, just wait until the first NFL player announces to the world that they prefer the company of men. Tebow wears his Christianity on his sleeve, and for that, is rewarded with an unrelenting press and public flogging even in the off-season. The first openly gay NFL player? Buckle up, reading/viewing public – because the very press and people that demand “acceptance for all” will never, ever let such a story drop off of page one.

    –The team that acquires the first openly gay player, or has one that “comes out”, will instantly become the main course in a media feeding-frenzy. The team could finish in the cellar of their divison, the player could have no more than a mediocre skill set, but they will still be that season’s “stars” in every possible way that can be imagined. The two teams good enough to play in that year’s Superbowl unless said player is on one of them) will be an after-thought.

    –People will be called bigots, right-wing nuts, losers, trash, and a lot worse if they dare wonder aloud about the team dynamics, the distractions, and the locker room persona of the team with the first openly gay NFL player. But that same press – those same progressive people – will write and talk forever about those very issues. Under the guise of educating those less accepting than they are, you will see more locker room film and photos than you ever wanted to see. Sex sells, even when there isn’t any sex involved.

    –The elephants in the room? Very easy to see. They are the ones salivating with desire for the first Gay NFL Player. They want him. They need him. They long to hold him in front of you.

    Even if that’s the last thing they should do, if they were as accepting as the keep telling us they are.

  49. Like Jim Nantz said on NFLN directly after the interview to Mayock, if your teams down, & Te’o stuffs the RB on 3rd & inches, resulting in a punt which gives your Offense whatever time to work magic, “THAT’S” when ALL this non-sense media trash goes to rest.

    His draft status may have fell just a bit (or a lot), but that kid MAN’ed up & insisted on having a 15min press conference during the combine. Personally, I saw a guy who knows he’s gonna get teased about it for a long time, but he accepts it & wants to move on to football. I thought every answer was genuine, brief (to the point), & he didn’t shy away from ANY question’s.

    If my team was in the 2nd round scratching their heads on who to take, Te’o is the real deal despite his poor play in the BCS Championship game, he would by all means become “the steal” of the Draft if the scenario played out that way, at least on pencil it would.
    Good Luck to you, Manti Te’o!

  50. His sexuality is irrelevant. For as long as the media continue to make a deal about having a gay player, no one will come out. I can’t see any player wanting to be known for their sexuality rather than their ability.

  51. Tebow is Gay hiding behind Jesus .You mean to tell me all that scrumptious ass at usc and florida and neither one of these cats wanted to pounce of one of those pretty little molly’s come on. You give me seventy thousand sexually active women right in my back yard and you think I’d be chasing a ghost on the internet come on Man

  52. ericbutler7272 says:
    Here is a false statement.

    “Thus, the fact that no current NFL player has come out of the closet proves that the NFL isn’t ready for a player to come out of the closet.”

    Or it could mean that there are no NFL players that are gay.

    I don’t care one way or the other, but lets not make false statements seem like truth.


    While it is possible that there are no gay NFL players it would be highly unlikely statistically since about 1 in 1o people are gay. So in a sports where 1696 people are on a team during the regular season I find it unlikely that there aren’t many gay players already on rosters.

  53. countyk66ers says: Feb 25, 2013 7:03 AM

    “We would be happy to select one of the best LB’s in the draft in Green Bay.”

    As a Bears fan, when I first realized Te’o might fall to us at #20, I was thrilled…Not so thrilled now, and it’s not so much him as the unfair scrutiny he will endure from the media jackals in his NFL home, and the harsh treatment he will suffer from opposing players and fans…Look, I like Te’o, and wish him well in his career, but I am not sure he can handle the pressure.

    And on a purely selfish note, when my Bears go on the road, I want a LB who will be feared by the local crowd, not ridiculed.

  54. brintfatre says: “So called gun Americans are in the news because of their extremist stance towards guns and because they’re killing people. Gays are not killing anyone.”

    You’re right, gays haven’t killed anyone.

    Well, as long as you’re willing to overlook the fact that AIDS is a direct result of their deviant lifestyle, and millions have died from it, and continue to die from it, including straight people thanks to it being spread to heterosexuals by gays who couldn’t keep it within their own disgusting ranks.

    Nope, no blame there…

  55. This was the first whole column I read about this mattter; (though I was aware of the general outlines of the story.)unfortunately, I’m left with feeling that I’ve now read one too many.

  56. revskip,

    According to Gallup in October 2012 about 3.4% of the population is gay based on their sample. Your assumption of 10% is probably pretty high. Its not at all unreasonable to think that with such a low percentage of the population being gay, and an obviously incredibly low percentage playing in the NFL, there would be no gay players currently.

  57. Gay or not – I don’t care. What any team needs to consider is how he choked big-time during that national championship game…

    However, if gays can be in the military now, then I don’t see any reason why there should be a big problem with gays in the NFL. The same arguments can be made in both scenarios, both for and against. The “for” has obviously won out for our military branches, so the NFL really should have no argument against.

    And truthfully, does anyone REALLY care?

  58. It looks like Manti Te’o and Tiny Tim Teblow would make quite the couple in the NFL. Neither likes girls so they just need to be honest and come out of the closet and admit what everyone else knows about them.

    Both players are vastly overhyped and don’t belong in the NFL, the Lingerie League is more their speed. Heck they might even learn how to play with girls.

  59. It’s pink elephant in the room idiot. And if Teo’s orientation doesn’t matter any where except in the NFL, then why is Florio obsessed with the topic like the rest of the media fools. (as if this will get approved)

  60. When I first joined the Army we were told you would get kicked out if you said out loud “I am gay” because of the “fox hole” scenario…

    Anyone who has been in the Infantry (you know, the guys who would hypothetically be in this fictional fox hole) knows that you are so close to the other 30 guys in your platoon that they wouldn’t have to declare themselves gay or straight.

    We already know.

    And we decided a long time ago that we don’t really care.

    Its nice to see the public coming around to fixing a social injustice that we have already fixed on a personal level long ago.

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