NFL: Question to Derrius Guice was “completely inappropriate”

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For the third time in five years, an incoming rookie has disclosed that he was asked a question about his sexuality at the Scouting Combine. For the third time in five years, the NFL has publicly denounced that practice.

“A question such as that is completely inappropriate and wholly contrary to league workplace policies,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT via email on Thursday morning.  “The NFL and its clubs are committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all employees in a manner that is consistent with our commitment to diversity and inclusion, state and federal laws and the CBA. We are looking into the matter.”

It’s one thing to talk tough and to investigate; it’s another to take steps that will end this kind of conduct.

“The league annually reminds clubs of these workplace policies that prohibit personnel from seeking information concerning a player’s sexual orientation,” McCarthy said.

That’s good, but it’s clearly not enough. Two years ago, cornerback Eli Apple said the Falcons asked whether he likes men. Per McCarthy, the league required the team to undergo a training seminar at its facility with an NFL-approved counselor.

“I spoke to Dan Quinn and I actually spoke to the coach who was involved in this matter,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in March 2016. “I think the Falcons, as an organization, and Dan Quinn as a head coach, and the coach who was involved, have all taken ownership of this issue, recognized the mistake that was made, have been very forthcoming and have taken the appropriate steps to educate everyone. The coach [Marquand Manuel] and I spent probably 20 minutes on the phone talking about his learning experiences, how he can use this for a positive step and I was impressed with the way he was handling it. The team has taken on training programs within the organization which I think are all very satisfactory. So I don’t see any further steps at the league level at this point.”

While that may have kept the Falcons from repeating the infraction, it’s not keeping other teams from doing the same thing. That’s likely because the consequences aren’t sufficient to deter teams from asking improper questions.

NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith believes teams that ask questions like this should be banned from the next Scouting Combine. While it’s an extreme example of discipline, it would be a lot more effective at deterring this type of thing than a seminar and a talking-to from the Commissioner.

Clearly, that outcome isn’t keeping other teams from asking questions that no employer should be posing to any employee.

86 responses to “NFL: Question to Derrius Guice was “completely inappropriate”

  1. Because NO ONE is going to overreact on this issue. I bet it didn’t even happen hahah

  2. I don’t know why asking this question is a big deal, but then again I’m not a gay male

  3. If being gay is not an issue, as Florio and the NFL tell us incessantly, WHY then, is this question “inappropriate”? Further, WHY would a team ask this guy, if there were no reasons to?

  4. It truly amazes me that over and over the NFL does not act like an employer…and they ARE. This could not take place in any other job. Arrests, drugs, violations like this, disrespectful behavior toward the boss such as kneeling when protesting ON THE JOB AND COMPANY DIME. It’s mind boggling when they make millions.

  5. The rookies need an advocate in the room with them during all interviews. It’s a shame it has come to this but the interviewers feel a weird need to be tough guys trying to rattle the rookies.

  6. Back to the original article, I have to agree with Florio. Saying it is bad juju 3 out of 5 years is very different than say making it part of the ruleset and saying it isn’t part of the NFL brand – with consequences. It should have been stopped the first time. The fact that it was asked again in 2018 shows the NFL isn’t serious about changing the behavior.

  7. “We don’t need players who like men, we need players who love footbaw!!” The idiot who asked this needs to be fired.

  8. These players have been living in glass houses for the past 3-5 years. Every team knows everything there is to know about these guys’ behavior. The guys like Aaron Hernandez, Aldon Smith, and Lawrence Phillips are well known to all. Some teams just take the risk. The game film tells you everything else you need to know. The combine is only good for medical checks and updates. It’s also good for job hunting and networking. You’re going to start seeing more and more players skip the combine.

  9. I don’t know any employers that question you about your sexual orientation especially when it doesn’t pertain to your job. Also, I think it’s pretty clear that the owners and players need each other equally. Protesting on the company dime isn’t far-fetched once you realize the power you have as the employee.

  10. These are hypothetical questions that are posed to gauge a reaction. When you are spending millions of dollars on intelligent meat, you damn sure better make sure that meat is not bad.

  11. You wonder why some teams struggle to sign the right players. Maybe part of the problem is they have idiots in charge. Questions like that do absolutely NOTHING. I’ve seen the argument about testing guys to see how they’d react so smack talk on the field–they already know if a guy has had troubles with fights or personal fouls in college plus you’re not simulating smack talk with an interview question and anybody thinking there is an equivalency there is too dumb to be involved in the selection process.

  12. devindenv says:
    March 8, 2018 at 10:16 am
    If being gay is not an issue, as Florio and the NFL tell us incessantly, WHY then, is this question “inappropriate”? Further, WHY would a team ask this guy, if there were no reasons to?
    ___________________________________________________________________________________

    So they could use that information to discriminate against him in the “hiring” or draft process. No different if you applied for a job at say IBM and they asked you the same question. It does not affect your ability to do your job.

  13. Words I never thought I’d type:

    DeMaurice Smith has a good idea.

    Make the punishment harsh and I doubt it will ever happen again. Go about it with a wrist slap and business as usual and nothing changes.

  14. I guess potential NFL employers won’t be able to tell if potential draft picks are easily rattle-able snowflakes. Well, not using this method anyway. You’d think opposing players are going to be doing it all day long on the field, like has been done since grade school.

    Perhaps they’ll settle that by micing the field and levying fines/penalties, with a pause between downs to review the audio.

  15. I think it’s widely known there have been and will continue to be NFL players who are gay or bisexual. Just like in any other profession or any other aspect of life. So why ask such a stupid question? You are just setting yourself for expensive lawsuits and PR nightmare, deservedly so.

  16. I would’ve answered the question…”Yes. I love my father. I love my brother. I love my teammates, my friends, and my coaches.”

  17. “If being gay is not an issue, as Florio and the NFL tell us incessantly, WHY then, is this question “inappropriate”? Further, WHY would a team ask this guy, if there were no reasons to?”

    For one thing, it is illegal. Second, it violates the CBA and NFL policy. Third, it is clear that being gay is an issue yet in many backwards thinking places, either because team officials feel that way, or they fear their fans will feel that way. And, your last question indicates you are part of the backwards thinking that still exists. Instead of saying you don’t care about his orientation, you suggest there are reasons . . . as if that is a red flag. The NFL will either move into current times, or it will disappear. It’s just a matter of time.

  18. That’s not a good question to gauge a players reaction. These scouts know these players have been heckled and jeered by fans, pundits and opponents for years. The proof about them being resilient when it comes to those type of things is evident in the game tape and when they do their research with the university. There’s no place for this question under any circumstances, any rationalization is plain dumb.

  19. Putting on my lawyer hat…

    1. Combine meetings with players are not considered job interviews under employment laws. Although players are told to treat it as such, by legal definition it is not. Players have not applied to each individual team, but rather only to enter the NFL draft. As long as the idiot asking is not representing the league (but as employee of a specific team only) they can ask the question without violating the law.

    2. While there’s no legal recourse for the player, NFL policy can reprimand a team although not very strongly, as the draft player is not yet a signed NFL employee under the protection of the NFLPA.

  20. The NFL needs to put the DO’s and DON’T’s in writing. Violations of the rule are punishable with the loss of a mid round draft pick and banned from personal interviews the following year at the Combine. The penalty doubles when it happens a second time.

  21. I’d pass on this guy. First if you were asked this you would laugh out loud if it wasn’t true or you would confront the asker if it was true. Going to the union when your not busy a member or even drafted and worse the union head going off on something that doesn’t concern him. In

  22. Snowflakes just got some shade and now they’re all triggered.

    Sorry if I didn’t use the 3 words “new” correctly. But fake news makes all these fake people care about things that don’t matter.

    If he or anyone else is bothered by the question he can use that college degree to go flip burgers for $9 an hour. I hear they don’t care about the genectic makeup and 40 times at Burger King. These guys get $500k a year to play a game, sorry you’re so coddled and had everything gift wrapped for you since you left high school.

  23. buckstalion12965 says:

    March 8, 2018 at 10:54 am

    When he doesn’t get drafted by that team in the 1st round he should sue the team and the NFL for violation of EEO laws.
    **********************************
    I don’t think you have to worry about this guy not going in the first round. He’d never get by Belichick and Howie Roseman. It would actually be a blessing in disquise. This kid is a pro bowl player. He’s not going unnoticed by the teams that have been evaluating correctly (the winning teams). I’m sure The Eagles are praying he slips to them.

  24. These kids are in a tough spot. There only 32 teams and limited very limited jobs. Its not like they can tell a team to stick it without consequences. In the real world most folks would cross any organization off their wish list of a place to work if an employer asked this type of question. It would at minimum make you question what type of organization they are. With NFL draft hopefuls they just have to grin and take it. Of course if they are good enough they could simply tell team thank you for interview however based on your question I would appreciate that you do not draft me as I do not think we are a good fit. That would take a lot of balls for a 22 year old.

  25. It shouldn’t be asked. But, I’ll bet the snowflakes who are deeply offended by it are far more upset than Guice was when he was actually asked the question.

  26. This makes for a good story but I have to ask why bring it up now (before the player is drafted and he knows his slotted value) and why not identify the team and person that asked the question? Hopefully the answer to the team and person will be known soon perhaps by NFL investigation.

  27. There is an assault on our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

    And, there is a not-so-subtle assault on our 1st Amendment right of free speech.

  28. Who cares? Why is that so wrong to ask the question. Maybe you are worried about this person’s ability to handle himself in locker room. This nation is to sensitive.

  29. How about “Here are the questions you cannot ask a player. Ask them or any variation of them and you’re losing a 3rd round draft pick”. These questions cannot be asked by me when I interview a potential employee, there’s no way it’s legal for the NFL to ask them.

  30. These teams that disregard employment laws, discrimination laws, sexually harass women need to be hurt where it counts. A fine doesn’t mean anything to these teams. They can afford it. But a draft pick gets them where it counts.

  31. There are limits to the freedom of speech, just as there are limits to the right of a people to have a well regulated militia… Meanwhile, there is an assault on the right to be free from unequal protection under the law… by those seeking to impose their notions of what is agreeable to their world view and what is not.

  32. akira554 says:
    March 8, 2018 at 11:22 am
    Putting on my lawyer hat…
    1. Combine meetings with players are not considered job interviews under employment laws. Although players are told to treat it as such, by legal definition it is not. Players have not applied to each individual team, but rather only to enter the NFL draft. As long as the idiot asking is not representing the league (but as employee of a specific team only) they can ask the question without violating the law

    ________________________________________________

    You sure about that? Where is the case law? I was in this field for a couple of years and I don’t recall any statutory definition of job interview.

  33. lanman11 says:

    March 8, 2018 at 10:09 am

    We’ll, “not that there’s anything wrong with it,” …but if that is the case, what’s the problem with asking?

    ======================

    What is the point of a combine interview question if not to place a value on a player? What value does that question have? What if they asked about who he voted for in the last election or who his favorite sibling was? What in the world does that have to do with performance on a football field? It’s useless and demeaning.

  34. It is a violation of Federal Law to ask about a job applicants sexual orientation.

    Saying teams do this to gauge a player’s reaction is like saying you robbed a bank to gauge the police response time to a 211 call.

  35. raymondmac says:
    March 8, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    There are limits to the freedom of speech, just as there are limits to the right of a people to have a well regulated militia… Meanwhile, there is an assault on the right to be free from unequal protection under the law… by those seeking to impose their notions of what is agreeable to their world view and what is not.
    ——————————————————————————————
    Your misguided comment aside, there is a vast difference between asking a question and implementing policy. What kind of candy have you been eating?

  36. For those confused as to why this is inappropriate, the more accurate word is “illegal”. It is illegal to ask questions like this as part of your hiring process, just as it is illegal to ask many other personal questions that could potentially be viewed as discriminatory.

    There are many other questions you could ask to see how a kid reacts that are not illegal.

  37. honalulublue says:

    March 8, 2018 at 11:32 am

    What a joke. How is the question inappropriate, if there is supposedly no inappropriate answer?

    ====================

    You just revealed the worthlessness of the question. It has no value. But combine questions are for evaluation so that means the team places a value on the answer. That’s where it gets very dicey. Does a particular team want a prospect to answer a certain way? If they feel the need to ask it, then yes. It’s a pointless question with no football value, yet some teams somehow think it is.

  38. The troglodytes who don’t understand why these questions are inappropriate, and illegal, are generally the same ones who freak out over the second amendment. If you want to uphold your constitution so vigorously it would help if you defended all of it. And not just the parts you like.

    If you don’t want to be discriminated against, don’t discriminate.

  39. Maybe players can take knee during the anthem to protest this outrageous question being asked and leaked. That would show where players stand.

  40. lanman11 says:
    March 8, 2018 at 10:09 am
    We’ll, “not that there’s anything wrong with it,” …but if that is the case, what’s the problem with asking?
    ————————-
    Other than a possible violation of state law regarding hiring practices?

  41. No secret NFL teams do not like players who are openly gay, but their policy has always been don’t ask, don’t tell. That means they do not care if a player is gay, but he should not come out of the closet and tell the world about it. Now one of the teams is asking about a player’s gender preference. That definitely crossed the line.

  42. Funny, I sure see a lot of people calling others “snowflakes” today. Assuming that’s meant for those who are tolerant, trait open, compassionate. Is it just me or do those on the right, those who consider themselves “real men” (but obviously daddy raised them the opposite) spend an awful lot of time whining and complaining and name calling. Like POTUS. BTW–there is a difference, a big one, see if you can try and get your head around it–between speaking up for what is proper and just (like calling out bigotry) and bitching about PC culture, and leftist takeover and on and on. Seriously ladies, its totally and completely BORING at this point.

  43. Good Lord, maybe the players just need to respond to that question flippantly with something like “I’m not that kind of a guy.”, or “Why, are you asking me out on a date?” Stupid questions deserve stinging comeback answers.

  44. Here’s why it IS a valid question..

    Michael Sam. Remember that elephant and pony show? And how he was more committed to reality TV deals and media attention than to football?

    Teams have a right to wonder if thatll be a problem.

    Also have a right to know if it’ll be a distraction potentially.

    The NFL isn’t like the average employer. It takes a public center stage, where the drama would be a publicly visible problem. And it also gives a platform for those just seeking attention and not really committed to football to try to do so. Similar to who kaepernick isn’t signed.

    The teams have a right to know about the guy they’re signing the checks for. How is it any different than an employer who runs a background check on any employees? Or drug tests them? Where do we draw the line?

  45. It’s an illegal question, but it’s obvious why they ask it: Few teams want to deal with a player coming out. (And few teams would handle it well, I suspect). The punishment for asking should be to forfeit your first-round pick. That should prevent most clubs from asking.

  46. See, I thought it was inappropriate but now that he NFL has stated it was…. well maybe I have to re-think my position…. No way the NFL ever gets anything right

  47. Raylan Givens says:

    March 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Here’s why it IS a valid question..

    Michael Sam. Remember that elephant and pony show? And how he was more committed to reality TV deals and media attention than to football?

    Teams have a right to wonder if thatll be a problem.

    Also have a right to know if it’ll be a distraction potentially.

    The NFL isn’t like the average employer. It takes a public center stage, where the drama would be a publicly visible problem. And it also gives a platform for those just seeking attention and not really committed to football to try to do so. Similar to who kaepernick isn’t signed.

    The teams have a right to know about the guy they’re signing the checks for. How is it any different than an employer who runs a background check on any employees? Or drug tests them? Where do we draw the line?

    ======================================

    Background checks and drug tests are screens that reveal criminal behavior and/or possible reliability issues. You equating that with being gay is pretty strange.

  48. Folks who are asking why this is an inappropriate question if “there’s no wrong answer” are missing the point. By asking the question, the person or people involved immediately send the message that there IS a right or wrong answer…otherwise why would they ask? It’s a rotten question and a rotten position to put a person in.

  49. Nothing lowers your Draft selection faster than creating a spectacle of yourself prior to the draft. Good job Guice…you just fell in the draft 2-3 rounds.

  50. Raylan Givens says:
    March 8, 2018 at 1:32 pm
    Here’s why it IS a valid question..

    Michael Sam. Remember that elephant and pony show? And how he was more committed to reality TV deals and media attention than to football?

    Teams have a right to wonder if thatll be a problem.

    Also have a right to know if it’ll be a distraction potentially.

    The NFL isn’t like the average employer. It takes a public center stage, where the drama would be a publicly visible problem. And it also gives a platform for those just seeking attention and not really committed to football to try to do so. Similar to who kaepernick isn’t signed.

    The teams have a right to know about the guy they’re signing the checks for. How is it any different than an employer who runs a background check on any employees? Or drug tests them? Where do we draw the line?

    ——

    You’re actually asking how asking a potential employee if he’s gay is the same as testing a potential employee for illegal drugs?

  51. richardmswartz says: “You sure about that? Where is the case law? I was in this field for a couple of years and I don’t recall any statutory definition of job interview.”
    ———————

    No, what I’m saying is that the way the Combine/Draft is structured, these college players are not “job applicants” to any specific team (thus not afforded any protection under employment laws). It’s more akin to appearing on the Howard Stern show and getting asked inappropriate questions by the interviewer. Now the NFL (like the producer on the Stern show) might have policies against such questions, but again that does not mean the team violated the law.

  52. lanman11 says:
    March 8, 2018 at 10:09 am
    We’ll, “not that there’s anything wrong with it,” …but if that is the case, what’s the problem with asking?

    ————

    The problem is what decision the team will make based on the answer. Why do they want to know?

  53. All these “oh if it doesn’t matter then why is it a big deal to ask” people are completely missing the point. If it doesn’t matter, THEN THERE’S NO NEED TO ASK. It is NOT relevant to their qualifications as a football player, it is NOT relevant to their character as a good person.

    So what happens when a player answers “yes” and the team doesn’t draft them? Even if their decision not to draft him is completely football based, that team has instantly lost the benefit of the doubt and will come across as prejudicial. So if it doesn’t matter, then there is no need to even bring it up. There are far more relevant and appropriate ways to “see how a guy reacts” or whatever.

    I don’t care if i’m applying for a job or not, if the interviewer asked me if my mom sold her body for cash, i’m smackin the dude. Straight up. These NFL scouts and GMs need to pull their heads outta their backsides and figure out how to actually scout and interview football talent. This stuff is just absurd and embarrassing.

  54. “We’ll, “not that there’s anything wrong with it,” …but if that is the case, what’s the problem with asking?”

    This has nothing to do with being right, wrong, soft or any other reason for asking it. Its a violation of federal employment laws, that’s what’s wrong with it.

  55. “what I’m saying is that the way the Combine/Draft is structured, these college players are not “job applicants” to any specific team (thus not afforded any protection under employment laws). ”

    Except the private meetings with team personnel are job interviews. You can use semantics to try and claim otherwise but that’s exactly what they are.

    If a team has a good feeling about the player in that private meeting, they are far more likely to draft them and therefor employ the player than if they don’t like the way the player responded in the meeting

  56. This is not a first amendment issue. The first amendment protects us from the government punishing us for speech, it does not protect us from private persons or employers limiting our speech.

    The question MAY be a violation of employment law but another commenter mentioned these are not technically job interviews so no violation there. Seems weaselly but probably correct. Also I don’t think sexual orientation is a protected class yet. Some employment lawyer needs to weigh in on other laws that might be relevant here.

    So the question was inappropriate, and might have been illegal, but it was not unconstitutional.

  57. I would def say a case can be made that bc the question is being asked it affects their ability to be chosen. So no different than me showing An apt and asking if the couple is gay, telling my mom that info who owns the apt. And as a result of the answer my mom does not give them the apt. It’s discriminatory by the very nature of it being asked. The NFL does employ the people asking. Therefore they are representing their employer as much as their team. Like saying oh my franchise of BK asks the question but I own this franchise so I can ask it bc it doesn’t represent the name brand of Burger King.

  58. Asking someone a question like that is illegal because it leads to discrimination. An employer cannot ask a potential employee, during the interview process, about their sexuality, race, or religion. This is a law for a reason.

  59. You could solve this in two seconds by doing two things. Record every interview, and establish a rule that pulls draft picks for illegal questions or questions that are established to be out-of-bounds by the league, sent to every team prior to the combine. Questions of sexual nature for players and their families members could easily be on that list.

  60. The NFL needs sensitivity training as badly as WEEI did.

    It works. They don’t realize it, but Guice going public with this possibly saved them multiple $millions in lawsuits.

  61. OK Roger, what is the bill for the seminar training that will be enforced? Just round up and make the team pay $10 million, there was probably a lawyer involved

  62. Right, wrong or indifferent, the question was asked. Guice should have told the interviewer that he was not going to answer this question because it is none of his business, and it is illegal to ask, and that if this line of questioning continues, there will be repercussions. Instead, he is so upset by it, that he goes out and tells the media. Guess the team found out what they wanted to know without him even answering.

  63. If a team is possibly going to pay me what these players make they can ask me anything they want.

  64. For anyone who thinks these questions are asked to “rattle” or test a player’s reaction under stress really need to think it through. The teams and the people who think these are good questions to test a player’s reaction are truly stupid. There is almost no question that these players don’t get coached up on before the process begins. These types of questions, the Wonderlic, and the combine itself really isn’t going to separate the 1st rounders from the rest. It’s been proven time and time again.

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