Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, in an interview with GQ, expressed his support for the NFL’s first potential openly gay athlete, saying that “now is the window” for players to come out publicly. The GQ interview, which will feature RG3 on the cover this month, covered topics ranging from his injury last season to his relationship with coach Mike Shanahan.
Griffin isn’t the first NFL superstar to show support for openly gay athletes in the league. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski gave his support in an interview with ESPN Radio, as did Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo; but the NFL’s reputation regarding gay athletes is still controversial.
Chris Kluwe and the Minnesota Vikings
Earlier this year, the Vikings released punter Chris Kluwe after eight seasons with the team. Normally, this wouldn’t be anything out of place, as NFL teams move punters and kickers all the time, but even after nearly a decade Kluwe remained one of the accurate kickers in the league. So why the change? Many, along with Kluwe himself, believe the Vikings booted the punter for his outspoken views on same-sex marriage.
In the year or so leading up to Kluwe’s release, Kluwe was vocal in his support for gay rights via his social media accounts and interviews he gave to different news organizations. The Vikings never specified Kluwe’s beliefs as the reasons for his dismissal, just the usual “we’re going in another direction” line. Given the punter’s affordable salary and high performance, it was obvious to Kluwe and some members of the public what was really happening. The NFL is often viewed as a conservative sport with a “traditional” audience. Television packages and all media platforms are big money-makers for the league and owners, they’ve even created an app for every aspect of the sport. Some suspect Kluwe’s forced exit was a desperate attempt to retain the league’s more conservative audience.
Deandre Hopkins and Shaun Cody
The support is growing among football players and fans across the country. Two NFL players from the Lone Star State openly voiced their support through tweets and social media. Shaun Cody, free agent for the Houston Texans tweeted “I can’t wait to go to my first gay wedding. Decor should be outstanding #BoutTimeObama.”
Another Texan, wide receiver Deandre Hopkins, shared a personal message of support, according to OutSports.com: “My sister is a lesbian. I’m not against gay marriage or anything like that. I feel like that’s what sports need, more people coming out and being themselves.”
Where Does RG3 Bring Us?
Griffin III is the new face of the Washington Redskins. The team sacrificed years of draft picks to the St. Louis Rams to sign him and unlike Kluwe, RG3 just can’t be replaced. As league superstars show more support for gay players to the public, the closer we get to the reality of an openly gay NFL athlete.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell dismissed the notion of any harassment or negatively toward an openly gay player, saying it would not only be tolerated.