Openly Gay in the NFL: Not a Matter of "If," but "When"

Alan LupianiCorrespondent IAugust 10, 2009

3 Sep 1995:  Defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chiago, Illinois.  The Bears won the game, 31-14. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport

Gay Pride.

Coming soon to an NFL stadium near you.  

That's right, folks.

I will be very surprised if an active NFL player does not come out either this year or next.

Will the NFL accept him with open arms, you may ask?

You bet your ___ it will.


It's all about doing the right thing, money, and the NFL taking a leadership role for all of sports as we roll into the second decade of the 21st century.

Thus far, only three NFL players total have come out after they have left the game.

Here's the list:

RB Ron Kopay, who came out after he retired in 1977.

OL Roy Simmons came out in 1992.

DL Esera Tualo came out in 2002.

My rationale for an active gay player to come out in the next year or two?


New Technologies 

Twitter and uStream are creating a closer look into the lives of NFL players. It will become increasingly difficult to keep the veil of secrecy over the NFL.


Money/Marketing Strategy

It's a win-win for the players and the NFL.

The first gay player to come out will more than likely be embraced by the fans around the world, instantly becoming a hero to millions. 

Also, the sheer spectacle of the first active gay player will create a PR blitz for the NFL. Think of a Madonna or Michael Jackson tour in every NFL city for a whole season, including the playoffs and Super Bowl.  

There will be a huge spike in ticket sales and other endorsements.

Cha-ching a ding, ding.


Audience Expansion 

Many gay people turn their backs on the NFL because of its history. The acceptance of an openly gay player will attract up to 10 percent more of the population!

Also, the NFL has big plans to expand its demographic on a global scale. What better way of pushing the brand internationally than by embracing an openly gay player?

Heck, the NFL would become by far the coolest sports league in the world, overnight.


It's Just the Right Thing to Do 

We all know that there are closeted players in the league right now and have been for a long time.

Estimates have put it to anywhere between 75-150 players or approximately 10 percent of the entire league.

On that note, the NFL has been largely described as the new American pastime. Roger Goodell appears to be an open-minded taskmaster, oops, I mean Commissioner. As a businessman and leader, I would think that he would be behind, errrrr, I mean spearheading this effort 110 percent.  

The NFL would become the unquestioned leader in all of sport, setting a new standard for the 21st century.


Acceptance by Fans/Players

Recent surveys of NFL fans have stated that approximately 75 percent would not change their opinion of a player if they knew he was gay. Similarly, over 50 percent of NFL players surveyed in a recent poll stated they would be accepting of a gay player in the locker room.

Wait a minute, gay players already exist in the locker room!  Talk about denial.

I would be more encouraged if the acceptance rate for gay players in the locker room were higher than 50+ percent.  However, as time passes, education continues, and tolerance pervades; the acceptance rate will undoubtedly increase.

In conclusion, The NFL can't push back the hands of time, it can only adapt to an unpredictable future with openly gay players in it.

Watch and see.