*In case there are those on the planet who don’t know this, and apparently there are, let’s be clear: wherever there are men, chances are good some of those men will be emotionally, physically and sexually attracted to other men.
Because these men have ambitions and jobs and careers, they, like everybody else, are everywhere. They’re in the military. They’re on construction sites and on the police force. They’re in the priesthood and at the fire station. They’re down on the farm. They’re in rock bands.
And they’re in the NFL. The players know it, the coaches know it; the NFL organization itself knows it.
So, rather than a national dialogue about whether/ how the induction of gay players will change the NFL, the real conversation probably should be about acceptance—not just the acceptance of future players like Michael Sam, the recently graduated University of Missouri linebacker who, prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, announced that he is gay—but acceptance of gay men already in the NFL. Because, despite the fears of guys like New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, gay men are already in the NFL.
Vilma, pondering the idea of openly gay players in the locker room, said, “Imagine if he’s the guy next to me, and you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me, how am I supposed to respond?”
I’m guessing this hasn’t already happened to Vilma. Indeed, such a sensitive and intuitive man would know if another player was checking him out. Perhaps that chiseled tight end would have licked his lips as he gave Vilma a concentrated once-over. Or something.
Truth is, Vilma would flip if he knew how many men have cast their lascivious eyes upon him. And that’s just when he’s on the street, fully clothed. Look out, brother.
The paranoid likes of Vilma would freak if they truly gave a discerning second thought to all those game-time smacks on the ass–not to mention those plays that end with a pile of big ol’ juicy, sweaty and excited men atop one another, all parts of their bodies touching those of others.
I mean, if gay men can’t control where their eyes land in the locker room, as Vilma fears—if, unlike “normal” men, they can’t harness their urges—what’s to stop them from trying to sneak a dry hump on the 20-yard line?
Not all NFL players think this way. Most of them know the Eagle landed a long time ago. Surely even the ones not entirely on board understand that they don’t have to do anything with a player who happens to be gay but play ball.
And to play ball is all Michael Sam wants to do. Some say that his announcing his sexual orientation prior to the NFL draft was just short of professional suicide. Instead, I believe he simply wants in the NFL what he had at the University of Missouri.
You see, I believe many of Sam’s former Missouri teammates have long known he is gay and they accepted him the way they accept other gays on the team.
Yes, I believe there are other gay men playing football for the University Missouri. Just makes sense. Because wherever there are men, chances are good that some of those men will be attracted to other men.
Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]