Clemons questions motivation of gay player coming out

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Maybe the NFL locker room actually isn’t ready for an openly gay player.

The real problem may not be that some players will object to the sexual orientation of a teammate, but that some will bristle at what will perceived to be a grab for attention.

That’s the gist of a recent series tweets from Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons, as summarized and explained by Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times.  While the comments could be construed as homophobic on the surface, Clemons eventually gets to the crux of his concern:  “I’m not against anyone but I think it’s a selfish act.  They just trying to make themselves bigger than the team.”

The first player who comes out will create a major distraction for himself, his teammates, and his entire organization.  With each passing season, as interest in the NFL continues to grow and as more and more media companies emerge to cover the sport, the distraction will be even bigger when a player does come out.

That’s one of the primary reasons no player has done it.  Football players want to play football, and they generally don’t want to create a distraction for themselves or others on the team.  Even if teammates have no issue with a player being honest about who he is, some teammates won’t understand why the player felt compelled to grab a megaphone and let the world know private, personal information that results in a microphone eventually being stuck in all their faces.

While it’s possible that the first player who comes out will be motivated by objectives other than making it easier for people to be who they are (e.g., extending his NFL career, creating a post-football career, or cashing in on endorsement opportunities), it will still require considerable courage, since the costs possibly will far outweigh the benefits.

Clemons’ comments highlight one potential cost that many may have previously overlooked.

63 responses to “Clemons questions motivation of gay player coming out

  1. Clemons need not worry. I have it on good authority the person coming out isn’t a player. In fact it’s Roger Goodell. 🙂

  2. Yes. Clemons hit the nail right on the head. Any NFL player who comes out wouldn’t be doing it to serve as a role model for millions of gay people, young and old. He wouldn’t be doing it to promote acceptance and equality. He wouldn’t be doing it as a way of showing that football is about football, and being a gay football player today is as irrelevant as being a black football player in the 1950’s.

    Clearly, this would just be a selfish act of a player trying to put himself ahead of his team.


  3. There is no good reason for any player to announce it.

    It certainly will not help him, his team nor anyone else. Its a selfish act for a player to get attention for several months.

    No matter who he is , he would go in my permanent doghouse!

  4. Wouldn’t it really depend on how the player comes out? Everyone is making the assumption the player will hold a press conference to announce he’s gay. What if he shows up at a team-sponsored event with his partner? Isn’t that coming out as well?

    If he came out in that manner, are you going to blame him for creating a distraction? Is he trying to garner more attention than others on the team? The guy’s trying to live a normal life and act like all the other players who bring their girlfriends or wives to events.

  5. everyone seems to have a preconceived narrative of what coming out entails: a press conference, a 60 minutes interview, oprah, then a book deal, then endorsements… i’m not saying it won’t be like that because i can’t see the future. but all those assuming it will be like that should remember they can’t see the future either. there are much more discrete ways to come out – being photographed on a date for instance – that would not put the player above the team or turn the whole thing into a circus.

  6. I suppose Jackie Robinson was a “distraction” to his 1947 Brooklyn Dodger teammates … how inconsiderate of him !!!

  7. I see where Clemons is coming from and it is a legit concern. But to suggest that the player is placing himself over the team seems a bit disingenuous. When players hold-out, get in trouble with the law, pout over playing time — those are selfish acts and that’s putting one’s needs over the team.

    Sharing stuff about your private life, to me, is not, because it helps me understand you better. Background stories on players gives me a better perspective of the man and not the player.

    I don’t think a huge announcement should be made. But since this is unprecedented I don’t really know if there is a right or wrong way for the player to come out.

  8. Who you are attracted to is about as important as your favorite color – it doesn’t define you as a person. What does define you as a person, Chris Clemons, is intolerance – especially for ignorant reasons.

  9. Chris Clemons and some of the commentors here are assuming that if a player comes out, that they are doing it for self promotion. Is there any more reason to make that particular assumption than it is to make the assumption that they’re doing it for the greater cause of promoting equality? To make that assumption before you even know the name of the person who is coming out smells like a bias to me.

  10. Clemons has a very good point. TMZSPN will be all over this 24/7. It will make their coverage of Tebow look mild.

  11. He is right. It is merely an attention grab. If it were about principles the story would be about a player that has come out rather than one who was thinking about coming out.

  12. Focussing solely on that individual’s own motivations and the distraction to the team is extremely short-sighted. The impact of an active player coming out will reverberate far beyond the boundaries of any one team, any one league, and professional sports overall.

  13. rodd1

    I must have missed the part where gay players were prevented from playing the NFL how black players like Robinson were prevented from playing in the MLB.

    And I also missed the part where Robinson had to come out and announce that he was black.

    The 2 situations are nowhere near alike.

  14. Regardless of how the media responds by this player coming out, it is still an incredibly courageous act.

    I support him and every American who loves their own freedom should too.

  15. If Jackie Robinson dIdnt become a “distraction” Clemons and many others might not know what it was like to play a pro sport Or ride a bus in the front seat

  16. Why doesn’t this guy just come out and say “I don’t like gay people”?
    Or is he in the closet himself, self-loathing and awaiting the day he has the courage to admit it?

  17. So sick of the media trying to make this a big deal. Trying to get players to come out. Every damn day they are trying to make this a story. I don’t know what any player does in his bedroom nor do I want to read about it!

    Right now, I just want to read about what player is going to play for what team, what team is going to draft which players and then when the season starts I just want to watch football. Keep the other crap out of the news.

  18. Yes Jackie Robinson couldn’t hide his skin color morons. What you do in your bedroom is your own business and not the business of me or NFL fans everywhere. Why is announcing your sexual preference important for me to know? If you think that gay people are discriminated against come and work in the medical profession. They work in leadership roles and in every aspect of the hospital. They have their own talk shows and star in movies and hold public office positions. Can you tell me where the discrimination is like the black people faced? Anyone, because they want to get “married”. Oh that is the only thing they harp on. Give me a break. We all have our own beliefs, and because you say it is morally acceptable does not mean I have to agree with you. Period.

  19. it is not time for NFL to mean something else – shut the hell up and play football – you can come out at your house – not on the field!

  20. Another day, another gay article. What’s up with that?

    My only question is if a gay player would eclipse Tim Tebow in the eyes on the media. Unless of course …. then they would have to create a second internet to carry all the traffic.

  21. Sounds like Clemmons is trying to draw his own attention just like Sherman did earlier in Seattle’s off season. Dude should worry more about rehabbing his knee than what the purpose is from players coming out.

  22. I love Clemons and don’t think he was trying to say anything with malice but he is wrong. If a player is discriminated against because of who they are isn’t any different than an African American player breaking the barrier in sports. I am certain teammates thought of those players as distractions but it was the right thing to do. I know some people don’t understand the parallels but because one is hidden and the other is visible its still about discrimination in sports.

  23. Anyone who feels that they need to share their personal business or sexual orientation in the workplace is misguided. Its a non-issue for your coworkers, so the only motivation is some personal need to get it off your chest.
    If that’s the case, get a therapist. No one cares about your personal life. Go to work and do your job, we don’t care that your gay and proud!

  24. is there ANY WAY at all that some player could “announce” himself WITHOUT it being a big deal?????
    I mean, give me a break – when this does eventually happen, it’s going to be one of the biggest sports stories of all-time – regardless of whether or not the player wants it to be.

  25. I wish I could literally punch the next person in the face that actually compares this to what Jackie Robinson went through. Gay people were never slaves. Gay people can not tell people that they are gay if they dont feel like dealing with push back from others. Last I checked, blacks can’t hide their blackness. Gay people were never sprayed with fire hoses or were officially segregated from society

    To all of you actually making the ridiculous comparison. F YOU. F YOU IN THE FACE

  26. Does any player go around flaunting that they’re straight? No. There’s no need for it so why do it. If you’re gay, you’re gay. Move on with your life with your decision. Why make put a circus around yourself and your team?

  27. These articles always talk about it being “private, personal information,” but what if the player has a significant other? Maybe they’d like to be open about that and not have to hide their partner. Should all straight players have to hide their wedding rings and keep their personal lives private?

  28. It’s easy to tell which of you clowns are a Jim Rome clone.. You say you don’t care if people are gay and they should keep it to themselves be a because its not relevant.. If its not relevant, why do you care if they acknowledge it? Ignorance is bliss and it sure is blissful here..

  29. “Football players want to play football, and they generally don’t want to create a distraction for themselves or others on the team.”

    Seriously?! Have you followed the NFL over the past 20 years or did you just step out of the time machine that delivered you from one of Red Grange’s greatest game days?

  30. omg mike please stop writing about this crap its seriously absurd stick to football good god. why are constantly pushing this agenda on everyone keep this nonsense out of this place

  31. Wait people didnt know Jackie Robinson was an African-American?! Was there a blindness epidemic at the time or something

  32. mackstrong youre an idiot and your comparison to gay ppl coming out to jackie robinson in MLB is utterly and completely absurd. what an insult that is i bet jackie robinson is sitting at home shaking his head to this garbage

  33. So what happens if that player isn’t very good and ends up being cut following preseason? Is he going to assume that it was due to his announcing his sexuality?

    I don’t think Clemons said it well, but the point is that it will be a distraction for that team/player. If every gay NFL player came out, that might be a different story.

  34. Remember that Clemons posted this from his own twitter account and the media took it from there. It’s not like he went too out of his way to say it. Took him about 10 seconds from his phone. Whoopty doo

  35. Difficult one. Can see both aides of the argument

    I don’t care if a player is straight, gay or married. Same for being religious. (But I hate it in interviews when for the whole interview they’re thanking god for that tackle in the 4Q!)

    If a player comes out then respect to him, but imagine the uproar when a team might cut the first openly gay player?

    Even if he for example drops 3 passes in preseason or misses a tackle the second ‘player x’ who came out gets cut then I can imagine the total crap that team will get for cutting him

  36. It’s highly unlikely that there even is a gay player in the NFL. 1.7 percent of adults in America identify as gay or lesbian. If you say half of the 1.7 percent are males then that’s .075 percent of American men are gay. The chance that one of those .075 American men being one of the 1976 NFL players is EXTREMELY remote.

    “Gates’ best estimate, derived from five studies that have asked subjects about their sexual orientation, is that the nation has about 4 million adults who identify as being gay or lesbian, representing 1.7 percent of the 18-and-over population.”

  37. Folks,

    Jackie Robinson never had to announce to the world that he was a black man. He never had the option to keep that part of his identity a personal matter. And, FYI, these types of comparisons do nothing to convince people to adopt your point of view – it just needlessly pushes people further from your side. I wish the worst thing my ancestors had to go through was the fear of being teased or misunderstood. If you don’t understand the full context of history, you probably should not cite it.

  38. Clemons is using the “politically correct” way of stating, that the locker room is not ready. Not that there isn’t one in the locker room currently, but most would rather not know who’s getting the free peep show. Not only will the attention go away from the team outside the locker rooms, but there will be a MAJOR distraction. Some may ask for separate showers. Don’t women and men have separate restrooms? Hmm, whats the reason for such things? Whatever, let’s all just go together, like pigs in slop.

  39. daubs17 says: Mar 30, 2013 7:05 PM

    mackstrong youre an idiot and your comparison to gay ppl coming out to jackie robinson in MLB is utterly and completely absurd. what an insult that is i bet jackie robinson is sitting at home shaking his head to this garbage


    Jackie Robinson passed away in 1972 so don’t be trying to call anyone an idiot because clearly he isn’t sitting around somewhere. You think I am insensitive to a cause yet I am of the same race you claim I insulted. Read stories on hate crimes and you will have a hint of what gay or lesbian people go through. I work in a field where I hear youth’s struggles and the shame of having to hide a who they are in school and sports. Remember this – when you think “gay or lesbian” is a choice, that’s the bigot inside of you talking.

  40. jeremycrowhurst is 100% right, and everyone who “thumbs down”-ed him has some serious soul searching to do. Football players aren’t paid to be smart, so I can forgive Clemons for being ignorant and myopic. Some things are more important than football.

  41. Think Tim Tebow. Not that Tebow is gay, but what his attention whoring did to the locker room. That is just a sample of what a gay player coming out would do with the media frenzy.

  42. Who a player is dating will always be considered a distraction because it has no place in football. Do I have to bring up Tony Romo and Jessica Simpon? But I do see Clemon’s point. The media will make it a circus even if the player is seen with his partner and does so discretely.

  43. I watch the NFL cause I find the sport of football entertaining. I don’t care to know about every players home life. Keep work stuff at work and keep home stuff at home. I’m not intrested.

  44. It is a choice. I can choose to “gross” myself out with someone ” I don’t feel I should be with”. The bottom line, we may be able to chose, but our choices must follow in line with truth.

  45. onbucky96 says:
    Mar 30, 2013 5:41 PM
    When you need something stupid said…Send In A Seahawk!

     29 23 
    Report comment

    And when you need a great football team…send the Seahawks

  46. It’s not the player that will likely cause the distraction. It will be driven primarily by the media and their lust for creating news. The player won’t be the person sticking the microphone in someones face. That will be the press, seeking to make the next sensationalist news story. They, not the players team mates, will ultimately create the misery that follows by making something that shouldn’t be news into something that is news.

  47. The world could not believe it when they found out Jackie Robinson was black. Lol. This is such a terrible thing to debate; nothing anyone says is going to change what others believe on this subject. It just becomes a mud throwing contest, and the nation is divided in yet another way.

  48. By the time I could sign in, you guys done said it all. Sheesh, carry on about it, but seriously being black and playing baseball from a different time and being gay and coming out about it are totally two different things, stop with that excuse and stop bagging on Clemons. You try buckling your knee at Fedex Field and try being quiet about anything.

  49. Chris Clemons must have forgotten that his very messy divorce was fodder for the media. Was his home life a distraction for the team?

    This is the main hole in the argument that closeted players should just keep it to themselves. When a straight player gets a new girlfriend, has a messy divorce, or has a child it is definitely a news item and picked up by TMZ. It isn’t something I think is socially positive but it happens. Straight players sexuality is talked about plenty yet they aren’t scolded to keep it to themselves. For Clemons to play the selfish card for behavior that he himself has engaged in is a bit hypocritical.

  50. I find his claims of “being selfish” and “putting yourself ahead of the team” quite ironic. African Americans were heavily persecuted by Caucasions many years ago (and yes, I know it still happens some today), A man by the name of Jackie Robinson decided to inject himself into the equation of a “white man’s game”. This was viewed many ways: one – most Caucasions were racist and bigots at the time and viewed it negatively and could have also thought that Jackie was “being selfish” or “putting himself above the rest of the team” by being the first African American in MLB and essentially “rocking the boat” OR two – as courageous and brave for breaking the mold and paving the way for other African American players in the future and also helping his race move forward in gaining equality.

    Now, we have a situation where another persecuted group of people is trying to “break the mold” and pave the way for others in its group. It too can be perceived in the same ways mentioned above.

    A person should not be swayed from saying something about themselves or perceived as being selfish just because the media decides to make a big deal out of something. Point case: if a male player states who is new girlfriend is, the media barely notices or cares, and he is not considered to be selfish. But if a male player states who is boyfriend is, the media makes a spectacle out of it, and then the player is perceived as being selfish? So basically, one would be stating that because a male player knows that the media will make a big deal out of it, he should not do something because he knows what the media will do and that would just be selfish of him to do that. Again, I come back to Jackie Robinson who also would have known that this was going to happen with the media when he played in the MLB.

    These statements by Clemons are just ignorant… and not that different than what many bigots/racists thought when Jackie Robinson decided to play in the big leagues.

  51. How are you going to cut the guy without being called names?

    It’s a valid question, and twice before you’ve refused to let it up.

  52. All Clemons proves is that he’s not ready for it. His argument is absolutely ridiculous. The subtext of his rationale is very apparent and shouldn’t fool anyone. He’s preemptively challenging someone coming out, how genuine..

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