steven ivory (2014)

Steven Ivory

*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]