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NFL quarterback: Now is “window” for gay player to come out

“I am a Christian, but to each his own”: Robert Griffin III

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III Credit: fikklefame.com

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has told GQ Magazine that if there are gay National Football League (NFL) players who want to come out, the time to do so is now.

Griffin, who is a Christian, says his beliefs would not prevent him from accepting gay players

“My view on it is, yes, I am a Christian, but to each his own. You do what you want to do. If some Christians want to look at being gay as a sin, then thinking about other women, committing adultery—or any of those other sins that are in the Bible—those are sins, too. And God looks at all of us the same way.”

Earlier this year, Jason Collins, who has played with both the Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards in a 12-year National Basketball Association (NBA) career, was hailed as the first male athlete still active in a major American  professional sport to come out.

Collins made the revelation in a piece he wrote for the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated.  

Collins's revelation came in the midst of heightened speculation that one or more athletes, still active in their sports, were mulling the prospect of coming out.

The Atlantic magazine published a piece that indicated Collins was not the first gay male athlete still active in a major professional sport to come out, noting that baseball player Glenn Burke, who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland As from 1976 to 1979, was open about his sexuality with teammates and friends. The feature says also that Burke didn't hide his sexuality when speaking with sports reporters, but the latter balked at writing about his sexuality in their newspapers back then.  

The Atlantic's Allen Barra writes, "Burke was so open about his sexuality that the Dodgers tried to talk him into participating in a sham marriage. He refused."

Burke died in 1995 from AIDS-related causes, the same year his autobiography, Out at Home, was published.

American footballer Robbie Rogers, who played for Leeds United, also came out earlier this year but left the club, reportedly by mutual consent, after making the announcement. In a statement on his blog, he said it was his time to "step away" and discover himself away from football. Rogers now plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy.

In a piece for Pink News, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell expressed disappointment on the eve of the start of the English Premier League season that there are still no out players out of the 5,000 professionals in the UK.

“By statistical averages, there must be in the region of 500 players who are gay or bisexual,” Tatchell writes. “None feel able to come out. What does this say about the state of the beautiful game?

While the rest of society has moved on, football is still ham-strung by hang ups about homosexuality.”

Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chairman Clarke Carlisle has previously said that at least eight players have told him they are gay, with seven saying they are reluctant to go public because of the potential negative reaction of fans and media.

"We have anecdotal evidence that players are out within their clubs and don't have a problem . . . we are trying to create an atmosphere for people to come out safely, but at the moment there is a big barrier," Gay Football Supporters Network chairman Chris Basiurski told The Observer several months ago. "The fact is, we have never really tested the fans, both home or away, on this."